Sunday 20 October, 2019

Holness promises $500 million for indigent, elderly housing

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that the Government is to spend some $500 million to build housing for the elderly and indigent.

Holness, who was addressing the public session of the 75th annual conference of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) at the National Arena in Kingston on Sunday, said he will speak more to the matter when he makes his contribution to the 2019/2020 Budget debate in a matter of months.

The prime minister, during a speech in which he spoke to the successes of the Government while noting that much more needs to be done, lamented that during his travels around the country, he comes face to face with a large number of poor and indigent persons who are unable to acquire a home through the regular housing market.

He said the money will be spent on building affordable housing solutions for the poor and indigent right across Jamaica, and that it will be part of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment, (HOPE) programme.

The prime minister disclosed that under the programme, young people will be trained to build the houses. This, he said, will equip them with a skill at the end of the exercise.

“We’re going to take in young men and women in the HOPE programme. We’re going to put them through a process of training through HEART and other training institutions, and we’re going to use them in an apprenticeship modality to construct those homes for the poor and indigent,” Holness told the conference.

“So we not only going to build the homes for the indigent, we’re going to ensure that we have our young people do it in an apprenticeship, national modality; they help to do something good for the nation, but they also come away with a skill,” he emphasised.

About the poor and indigent, Holness observed that “many of them can’t throw NHT (and) their housing condition is terrible”.

Meanwhile, the prime minister - who has dubbed himself the ‘Builder’ and who arrived at the conference wearing a green and yellow long-sleeved jersey with the word ‘Builder’ and the number 10 in bold on the back - said the NHT is on course to deliver 6,000 housing solutions this year. He said the trust is also on track to deliver another 22,000 houses for which plans have already been done.

Without stating whether he was referring to the proposed Bernard Lodge development, Holness said “we are working on another plan that will give us an additional 13,000 units, and you will hear more about that plan as we refine it."

“Building housing for the Jamaican people is my passion, and when we are through, we are going to build houses so that every single Jamaican don’t have to think, ‘let me squat on somebody land’,” the prime minister asserted.

Of the NHT, he said it has not always been as efficient as it could be. He said it must produce at a level that will give every Jamaican the confidence that they can own their own home.

“So whether you’re a janitor, a grounds man, a gardener, a helper, you too must have it in your mind that one day not far away, not a dream, not an illusion, but one day you can own your own home with a title that you can pass on for generations to come. That is how you break the cycle of poverty in the land,” Holness concluded.”

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