Some 146 persons in the constituency of Eastern St. Thomas have become home owners under the Ministry of Transport & Works/Food for the Poor collaborative Housing initiative.

This was disclosed by Minister without portfolio with responsibility for Housing. Hon. Dr. Morais Guy at a handing over ceremony in, Cheswick, St. Thomas on August 29, 2014. 135 of these houses have been constructed under the Hurricane Sandy Relief Housing Project while 11 have been constructed under the regular portion. To date, 1096 regular units have been constructed while 471 have been done under the Hurricane Sandy portion.

By way of background, Minister Guy said that the Initiative was borne out of a recognition by the Government to do something about the chronic housing deficit in the country, particularly among the lower economic stratum of the society. In this respect, a facilitation agreement was signed and entered into in August, 2012 between the Government of Jamaica, Food for the Poor and the PetroCaribe Development Fund to construct 100 two bedroom wooden units per month of approximately 1,200 units per year for indigent beneficiaries islandwide. Funding was made available through the PetroCaribe Development Fund for years 1 and 2 of the 5 year programme.

Continuing, the Minister explained that the idea of the Programme was to have persons in the 63 constituencies benefitting. Following the passage of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, however, there was an immediate need in the badly affected parishes of St. Thomas, Portland and St. Mary and so it was decided that since a housing programme already existed, the affected persons would be accommodated. 500 persons had lost their houses in that particular region.

Construction cost per unit is US$6,400.00 with US$3,200.00 being borne by the Ministry and the other US$3,200.00 being borne by Food for the Poor. Construction period has been set from October 2012 to the present.

In speaking to the impact the Housing Programme has had on people’s lives, Minister Guy said, “Perhaps most importantly in all of this is the impact this Initiative has had on employment in this country. To date, approximately 4,608 persons have been employed under the Project. Personnel employed range from masons, carpenters, welders, plumbers to unskilled labourers. Think of the multiplier effect this will have on the families impacted all over the island.”

Other persons speaking at the ceremony included, Mr. David Mair, Executive Director, FFP Jamaica; Mrs. Lucille Brodber, Project Director, JEEP; Deacon Ron Burgess, Senior Director, Recipient Services who offered prayers and Mr. Carl Chambers who responded on behalf of the recipients.

Two recipients, Mr. Carl Chambers and Ms. Phyllis Bradnock were on hand to receive keys to their units.