1,700 houses earmarked for tourism workers in St James this year
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced that ground will be broken for the construction of over 700 housing units for tourism workers in the Rhyne Park area of St James later this month.
"The HAJ [Housing Agency of Jamaica] signed with a Chinese developer, Henen Construction, to build 754 units in the Rhyne Park area at a price point ranging from $7.9 million to $18 million for one to three- bedroom units, which will allow the ordinary average worker to afford housing," Bartlett outlined.
He said this is in addition to another 1,000 units in the nearby Grange Pen community in St James.
"The greenfield development for Grange Pen is in the tender process and will see an additional 1000 units which will make a total of 1700 units available at the lowest possible price points for tourism workers," Bartlett announced.
He indicated that similar projects will be replicated across the tourism belt, to be followed by Whitehall in Negril next year.
"Our tourism workers deserve to live in clean, orderly, structured and safe communities with appropriate infrastructure. We will go beyond the call of duty to make this a norm across the island," the tourism minister said.
He was making his contribution to the annual Sectoral Debate in the House last Tuesday.
He explained that in 2009, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) - along with the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) - earmarked $1 billion for upgrading housing solutions for tourism workers.
The TEF acquired some 250 acres of land which was handed over to HAJ towards a brownfield development and a greenfield housing project in Grange Pen, St James. Bartlett noted that after a hiatus, the programme is up and running again.
"I remain strongly committed to improving the welfare of the thousands of hotel workers across the island. The housing conditions of hotel workers are of particular concern to me. Mr Speaker, I point to a recent survey that indicated that over 88 per cent of the workers in the sector cannot even access the National Housing Trust (NHT) housing solutions. Mr Speaker, we have searched long and hard for a formula that can provide affordable housing for our workers and we are proud of the policy shift that the prime minister has announced with regards to the NHT menu of benefits.
He cited the benefits as:
• An increase in loan limit,
• Reduced interest rates on NHT mortgages,
• Intergenerational mortgages
• Increase in construction loan limit for NHT lots.