Holness brings HOPE to Grants Pen seniors
Eighty-year-old Shirley Leon of Shortwood Lane in Grants Pen, St Andrew, was short for words expressing her relief at finally being able to sleep in comfort after receiving the keys to her brand new two-bedroom house under the Government’s Housing Opportunity Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who handed over the keys to two units in the Grants Pen community on Monday, said the newest social housing solutions represent the Government’s continued commitment to addressing the needs of an estimated 10,000 persons living in “unhabitable” conditions.
“Everyone in Jamaica, though it is not fully articulated in our Constitution, but by virtue of how we give entitlements to our citizens, is entitled to good shelter. And when someone does not have shelter, regardless of the situation or the circumstances why that is the case, it is a blot on the entire society. It is something that is on our social conscience,” said Holness.
“We must provide proper housing solutions to a minimum standard for all our citizens.”
Funded primarily by the national budget to the tune of half a billion dollars, and in part by the National Housing Trust, the programme is designed specifically to find affordable housing solutions for an estimated third of the population who cannot afford formal housing.
Launched in 2018, with oversight from the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the programme has yielded a total of 46 units, improving the living conditions of 200 Jamaicans to date.
Holness believes the programme has now demonstrated a viable model for a scalable, low-cost housing solution.
“The two-bedroom unit costs $4.7 million and was completed in two months.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
“For us to achieve this, I think it is a good sign,” the prime minister stated, making an appeal to the private sector to partner with the Government in rolling out more social housing units.
“We will be able to deploy solutions that are inexpensive for the budgets of some private-sector companies, but would be the greatest thing to happen to some families. So, there is an opportunity for the private sector who would want to fulfil their corporate social responsibility.”
An estimated 10,000 families are said to live in “absolute deplorable conditions”, the prime minister said.
Holness announced that going forward, the programme will transition into a new iteration of its housing solutions, following results from the housing design competition launched last year.
The new solutions will see a scaling down of cost and an increase in the number of units.
“Some of the solutions that were brought to us in the housing design competition, which used alternative materials such as containers and other types of designs, will be deployed.
“So, the housing solutions that we will use may not always be block and steel. There may be other designs so that we will be able to bring the cost down but increase the number of housing solutions,” said Holness.
Meanwhile, Leon and the second recipient, 60-year-old Lloyd Edwards of Grants Pen Avenue, expressed gratitude for their new home, the first time for both in owning their own house.
“It’s a great experience for me. I never own a house from I was born and now I have a house. So, I feel so proud,” Edwards told The Gleaner.
“This is a big help for me,” said Leon. “No more wetting up when rain fall.”