The Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, made some fifty home owners happier when it wrote off the mortgages off their mortgages. This was done under a special debt forgiveness programme dubbed the ‘Jubilee 50 for 50 Housing Initiative’.

This Initiative which was the brainchild of the Ministry was conceptualised to coincide with Jamaica’s celebration of its 50th year of Independence and was intended to ensure that these customers close out the jubilee year mortgage free. The announcement of the programme last year coincided with a week-long series of activities to mark the Ministry’s Customer Appreciation Week and was also in celebration of World Habitat Day.

Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said  that the Government had given a firm commitment to put thousands of land titles in the hands of Jamaicans. Continuing, she said, “We believe that security of tenure, the ability to own your house should be the right of every Jamaican.  The gesture today is one of several programmes being implemented by the Ministry of Housing to provide opportunities for security of tenure for persons who have been occupying lands over a period of time.”

And for his part, Minister without portfolio in charge of Housing, Dr. Morais Guy told the large gathering that the function was not just about ‘writing off mortgage balances, it’s an investment on the part of the Ministry’. 

“It’s money that we have opted to leave in your hands, rather than collect into our coffers. But I want to challenge you to do something. That money that you will no longer be required to pay as mortgage this month, next month and all the other months that would have become due without this initiative, I want you to put it to good use. We are investing in you and in turn, we are urging you to invest in yourself, invest in your family, invest in your home and invest in your community. An investment in any one of those areas is an investment in your country,” the Minister advised.

Permanent Secretary Audrey Sewell used the opportunity to outline the criteria for selection of beneficiaries under the programme. These she outlined as:

·         The primary account holder should be 50 years or older

·         Balance on the account should be less than $50,000.00

·         The account should not be inactive for more than 50 weeks

·         The Registered Certificate of Title for the property should be available

She congratulated the recipients and expressed the wish that the initiative would add to their economic and social empowerment and ultimately make Jamaica a better place.