Transport, Works & Housing Minister, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies says Government will be placing a high priority on the provision of low income housing for Jamaicans. He made the disclosure following a high level meeting of the Housing sector at the Terra Nova Hotel recently.The meeting was held to develop policy and discuss solutions concerning low income/middle income housing, inner city housing, squatting, and the Housing Policy.
Presentations were made by a number of related Ministries, Departments and Agencies including: the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries; the Ministry of Local Government & Community Development; the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change; Housing Agency of Jamaica; National Housing Trust; Urban Development Corporation; National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA), National Land Agency (NLA); the Land Administration Management Programme (LAMP); the Jamaica Mortgage Bank as well as officials from the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing.
In commenting on the problem of inadequate housing for low income earners, the Minister noted that the Housing Ministry will be pursuing a number of initiatives to address the challenge. He pointed to the initiative with Food For The Poor as one such that has already borne fruit and advised that similar ones will be explored with other organisations including the private sector.
Following presentations from both the UDC (inner city) and the Sugar Industry Authority (housing for sugar workers), both of whom outlined various initiatives in train to address this sector (housing for low income earners), the Minister said that he would see how these models could be incorporated in the government’s approach to low income housing.
Minister Davies also mandated officials in the Ministry to establish an Inventory which would capture all the entities responsible for housing and its attendant services, noting that the current situation is ‘untidy’.
Minister without portfolio (Housing), Hon. Dr. Morais Guy said that the housing problem was a national one hence the need for a multi-sectoral approach. He explained that all the ideas posited would be explored in order to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the sector, mindful of the fiscal constraints and environmental considerations.
A working group will be established which will consider and work on decisions that will ultimately form the basis for a policy position. Other Ministers present at the meeting were, Rev, the Hon. Ronald Thwaites; Senator the Hon. Mark Golding; Hon. Patrick Atkinson and Senator, the Hon. Sandrea Falconer.