Single mother gifted with new home for Christmas
After experiencing what she described as a difficult year in 2022, during which she battled stage-two cervical cancer while living in less-than-ideal conditions, Sidonie Eldemire has received the gift of a brand-new house for Christmas.
The two-bedroom unit, situated in Tower Hill, St Andrew West Central, was constructed at a cost of $6 million and donated by Arc Properties Limited under the government’s New Social Housing Programme (NSHP), which is administered under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
The house, which Eldemire will share with her 14-year-old son, Rohan Clarke, was handed over during a ceremony on December 14.
Arc Properties is the first private-sector company making a contribution of this nature under the programme.
The handover exercise was led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is member of parliament for the constituency.
After being presented with the keys, an emotional Eldemire expressed gratitude for the kind gesture extended to her.
“I really appreciate this. It’s been a very rough year. But, as the songwriter says, ‘when God says yes, no man can say no’. I appreciate this so much and I will maintain [the house] with my community, [because] they have my back to help push me,” she declared.
The 37-year-old mother said that after being diagnosed with cancer approximately three years ago, she had to quit her job as a babysitter.
Eldemire said she, thereafter, proceeded to do chemotherapy, which caused rapid weight loss and affected her ability to walk, talk and eat.
She also pointed out that her house, a board structure, gradually deteriorated over time.
“So, it really took a toll on me. But I had my son beside me, and he was my ‘inside doctor’ and I appreciate him. I just ask God to uplift him and push him more, so he can do more to help someone else, just like someone else [helped me],” she said.
Rohan, who aspires to be a firefighter, said that the donation is a sign of improvements materialising for his family.
“I’m glad we have somewhere better to sleep than in a board structure. I’m happy my mom got [this home], so we can stay healthy and feel better [about ourselves],” he said.
Meanwhile, Holness disclosed that approximately 150 homes are expected to be donated to families living in similar conditions, under the NSHP, by the end of the year.
While welcoming this anticipated outcome, he emphasised the need to scale up the construction and donation of homes under the programme, to assist in addressing the urgent need for housing solutions by the society’s most vulnerable.
“We estimate, based upon the applications that have come into the office, that there are about 6,000 households in Jamaica that would qualify for this kind of intervention. We want to be able to be turning out 100 of these [per month], if we are going to make the impact as quickly as possible,” he stated.
Holness disclosed that the ministry has asked the National Housing Trust to “make a contribution to the process”.
“We have allocated from the Budget, $500 million, and we are, in the next [fiscal year], seeking to increase the budgetary allocation to $1 billion,” he added.
Holness reiterated his call for private-sector stakeholders to partner with the government on the programme.
“We need to have private-sector intervention. You may not be able to contribute the entirety of a house, but you may be able to assist with materials, you may be able to assist with financial support … anything that you can assist with,” he said.
Holness added that “the Government is increasing its capabilities and its capacity, [and] we are increasing the pace of delivery of these homes [to] improve the lives of the [neediest]”.
Arc Properties Limited chairman, Norman Horne, in his remarks, disclosed that the house was built using funds derived from a percentage of the company’s profits generated between 2021 and 2022.
“You cannot begin to imagine how satisfying it is for us at Arc, and each year, with God’s blessing, we’ll continue to do this,” he said.
Horne also encouraged other private sector stakeholders to consider contributing to the programme.
“This is not an exclusive [for] Arc. This is a programme for any company, any business, any private sector person in Jamaica to participate [in] and help to help persons who are in need through social housing,” he stated.