Housing stock improvement key to urban renewal, says Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that his administration’s thrust to drive urban renewal and improve housing conditions in some unplanned communities is aimed at building a better country.
“Every single day, we are making progress changing Jamaica for the better. There are many, many, problems that we have to solve in Jamaica. Some of them are problems that are direct results of government policy and lack of foresight, lack of leadership,” Holness said yesterday.
He was speaking at a handover ceremony under the New Social Housing Programme at 8 Donmair Close – a community known as Common – in the Red Hills Road belt of the St Andrew North Central constituency.
The community – which has buildings and roads that are not properly planned, no sidewalk for pedestrians, and traffic congestion – is a picture of what the urban renewal push is set out against.
“It has happened primarily because we have allowed a lot of communities to emerge without proper enforcement of the town planning rule. We have allowed communities to emerge because the Government simply just didn’t have the resources,” Holness said, noting that the Government will, inevitably, have to confront such challenges.
The prime minister said there are many communities like Common replicated right across Jamaica, unplanned and unregulated.
“It is not a simple and straightforward issue, and what the Government is doing in analysing this complex problem is recognising that, for us to enter upon a process of urban renewal, we need to solve the supply of housing,” Holness said.
Yesterday, father-and-son duo Henry and Milton Dwyer were the latest recipients of a newly constructed three-bedroom house, valued at $6.1 million.
“Honestly, to be frank, mi never know it would have really come true, but to be here and see it now, thankful,” Milton told The Gleaner.
The Government is building out its Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, and the prime minister said members of parliament have been asked to identify five houses in need of renewal within their constituencies.
Within the first phase, Holness said, 122 homes will be built, with plans to double that figure in the next financial year.
The process to deliver a house like the structure built for the Dwyers takes between six and eight weeks.
St Andrew North Central Member of Parliament Karl Samuda, who was at the event, said that next on his agenda was to ensure that residents receive titles for their properties and that all the roads in the community be paved.