Government says come August, approximately100 dwelling units will be delivered to indigent families across the island under the New Social Housing Programme (NSHP).
According to Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness, with improvements made to the processes of the programme, contractors are now delivering the houses in a shorter time frame, compared to four years ago when the initiative was rolled out.
The NSHP was established in 2018 and is being executed by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation through the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme.
“Already we have built 73 such units between this year and last year, the bulk of them being this year. We have improved the process … so now we will be able to deliver at least one or two houses every week,” he said.
“We are still, of course, trying to innovate, trying to see how we can improve our administrative and bureaucratic processes to make sure that we can deliver these houses even faster,” Mr. Holness continued.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the official handing over of a three-bedroom house in Wakefield, Northern Trelawny, to Brenda Grant, under the NSHP.
The unit was constructed within six weeks at a cost of $6.5 million.
Mr. Holness noted that houses constructed under the NSHP is proof that the government is working to ensure that every Jamaican has a minimum and acceptable standard of shelter, despite their socioeconomic standing.
“Today the circumstances speak for themselves as to why we have to invest in housing and why we have to ensure that every Jamaica … has even a certain minimum standard of shelter,” he said.
The Prime Minister said based on rudimentary sampling, it is estimated that about 10,000 households are in need of social housing intervention, noting that government is putting mechanisms in place to address as many as possible over time.
“We wouldn’t be able to do all 10,000 in a year or even two years. It will take some time. But what we want to do is to put the process in place so that we can start to address the most pressing ones and I believe we are now at that point where we can address the pressing needs,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Holness urged the recipient of the new housing solution to be an upstanding citizen in the community and an ambassador of the HOPE Programme.
He said beneficiaries under the NHSP will be required to sign a “social contract” as a commitment to promote positives social values.
“Please bear in mind that the house is not free; that you will be required to sign a contract and I like to call it the social contract, that you will continue to be a good upstanding citizen in the community… and that you will continue to be the good maternal influence on your children so that their behaviour justifies the use of public funds in their support,” The Prime Minister said.
Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern, Tova Hamilton, said this is the first unit to be handed over in her constituency under the programme and lauded government for the swift pace at which the house was completed.
“The speed with which this project was completed from procurement to handing over could most certainly be deemed res ipsa in law. Res Ipsa Loquitur is when something speaks for itself and a particular rebuttable presumption is applied in this instance, the presumption would be that the government has the ability to be efficient,” she said.
Ms. Grant who will share the unit with three other relatives, expressed gratitude for her new home.
The woman who was overcome with emotions, said she had been living in less-than-ideal conditions for 47 years.
“I give you thanks for this house. I don’t have anything to put in it yet, but by the grace of God…, a going in,” she said.