By Caribbean News Global contributor
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Minister without portfolio in the ministry of economic growth and job creation, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., said “the government continues to prioritise the provision of housing in order to meet the growing demand”, adding that, “research has shown that Jamaica will require approximately 15,000 new units annually.
“In the last three years, we have had the most housing starts built since our independence, which is a good thing. It means there is a priority for housing. The average number of housing units being built annually is 11,152 …, in the formal and informal sectors… but we still have a deficit,” he noted.
“Population fluctuation has a direct impact on housing”, the Senator noted. The National Housing Trust (NHT) indicates that in 2017, the housing demand market was approximately 24,500 persons. This means if you are hoping to be a developer… you cannot lose. The demand exceeds what we are able to provide,” he said.
Turning to the proposed amendments to the Rent Restriction Act, Senator Charles Jr., said: “changes are expected to address current challenges in the rental estate industry and make it more equitable for landlords and tenants.”
He continued: “Right now, it is a representation of inequity. So you are going to find that a lot of persons who potentially would have wanted to purchase another home in order to rent it… said no… because they didn’t want to have to deal with the challenges that flowed from the Rent Restriction Act. But when we change and amend the Act, what they are going to be doing is opening a whole new revenue stream for people, who might have a little extra income, who might be able to access that mortgage now … [and] buy a home and rent it,” he pointed out.
In furtherance of government housing policy, prime minister Andrew Holness, on December 4, presented keys to families for 29 detached units in Darliston Grove and 23 detached units in Shrewsbury – part of the first set of beneficiaries to receive housing units under the National Housing Trust (NHT), Labour and Small Materials Programme (LSMP).
In his address prime minister reaffirmed government commitment to ensuring that “every Jamaican has a fair chance of owning his or her own home, and residing in a secure environment”, adding, “NHT has been following the government’s mandate to build housing solutions for the hard-working men and women of Jamaica.”
“It was in early 2017 that I broke ground at Darliston and Shrewsbury, and I told you that I would be delivering six housing developments totalling 1,493 housing solutions in the parish of Westmorland under the NHT’s four-year housing programme. The NHT has been making steady progress in achieving its target developing 23,000 housing solutions in Jamaica by 2021. This objective is being propelled through public-private partnerships that are being encouraged through various programmes”, he said.
NHT board director, Nesta-Claire Hunter, said the agency remains committed to empowering and improving the quality of life for all Jamaicans through homeownership. “For us at the NHT, these houses represent more than just fulfilling targets. For us, they signify the building of a nation one block, one home and one community at a time,” she said.
The new homeowner of Darliston Grove, Cosmo Grant, told JIS News that getting the keys to a new home has been an overwhelming experience for him and his family. “We want to thank the NHT and the government for what they have created here in Darliston, and it is my intention that we keep this scheme free from violence, and make sure it is clean all the way through,” he said.
The report was assisted by JIS reports from Latonya Linton and Okoye Henry.