Monday 17 February, 2020

Social Housing Programme with ‘big yard’ element to begin this year

Sir Patrick Allen (file photo)

Sir Patrick Allen (file photo)

The Social Housing Programme (SHP) that was first touted by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) annual conference last November, is to be rolled out this year.

Under the programme, the Government is to provide indigent housing, relocate  vulnerable communities and upgrade tenements or so-called ‘big yards’, according to Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen.

He made the disclosure on Thursday as he delivered the Throne Speech in Gordon House to mark the start of the 2019-2020 legislative year. He told a packed Parliament that as part of its growth agenda, the Government intends to push to create more opportunities for "safe, affordable and legal housing".

As such, the Administration is to give renewed focus to the squatting problem which, according to estimates, affect some 600,000 Jamaicans and which in turn leads to a number of social ills, including crime and violence, the improper disposal of waste, degradation of the environment, and other problems associated with the practice.

“This year the Government will undertake a comprehensive, multi-agency national survey of squatter settlements to accurately ascertain the extent of squatting in the country,” Sir Patrick said.

He stated that the survey will also provide critical socio-economic, demographic and environmental information on the settlements, and will inform the policy development process, as well as intervention strategies.

“The new SHP will be administered under the housing component of the HOPE programme through which employment opportunities are provided for Hope interns,” the governor general said.

He disclosed that drafting instructions are being finalised for the Registration of Strata Titles Act, the Real Estate Dealers and Developers’ Act, and the Timeshare Vacations Act.

According to Sir Patrick, the legislations are aimed at giving effect to the Real Estate Authority of Jamaica for greater efficiency.

He said the Government is also to enact legislation to regularise communities with shared amenities under the Registration of Strata Titles Act.

The annual Throne Speech gives broad outlines of the Government’s plans, projects and programmes for the legislative year ahead.

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