Jamaica – Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is committed to making 30,000 low-income housing solutions available over the next five years, giving all Jamaicans a chance to be in compliance with the law.
The Prime Minister, who was speaking at a St. James Central Social Housing handover ceremony in Salt Spring, St. James, on May 21, said the Government is also in the process of looking for lands, with the aim being to ensure that units are available at affordable prices for needy Jamaicans, where there will be no more need for squatting and hostile takeover of private properties.
Mr. Holness also noted that this goal is part of the Government’s promise of making available 70,000 housing solutions within the said time frame, with the difference being that the 30,000 units will fall in a price range from zero to $8 million.
“We want to target 30,000 housing solutions in the affordable income range. Can you imagine, 30,000 housing solutions all across Jamaica? What reason would you then have to go and squat on somebody’s land… what reason would you have to go and build three- or four-storey structures on lands that you don’t own… when you could have taken that same money and go and acquire your land in the legal way and get your legal title, so that you can claim the value of the land. That is the intention of the Government,” he said.
Mr. Holness said his Administration is cognisant that many of the illegal settlers were following a particular and ill-advised mindset of the past, that it was okay to simply capture or settle on any land deemed vacant, with no regard for ownership or the fact that they might be breaking the law.
“There is no plan, and so you put up your house and a next man come and put up a house on top of yours and then a next man build his house in front of yours… very little pathways… no provision for sewerage… no provision for garbage collection. You then have a hodgepodge of houses… where the future of possibly a housing development is forever negatively impacted,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said the Government is determined to change what was a familiar and accepted form of modus operandi, noting that to continue on that pathway and with that kind of mindset “is counterproductive to development and what we want to accomplish as a nation”.
“We can’t continue with this forever… . We can’t allow Jamaica to develop like this forever. Jamaica as a small island doesn’t have a vast frontier. Whatever land we have we have to use it carefully,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
As part of the Government’s new social housing programme, which is spread across all 63 constituencies, 47-year-old Julie Ann Sterling is the beneficiary of a three-bedroom unit at a cost of $9 million.
“I am very grateful to the Prime Minister and all those who are responsible for this dream to happen,” Ms. Sterling told the gathering in her vote of thanks.