Mon | Dec 11, 2023

59 Units Completed Under Indigent Housing Programme

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2023 | 12:46 AM

To date, 59 housing units have been completed under the Indigent Housing Programme, with work in progress on an additional 19.

The programme, which is delivered under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s Municipal Social Assistance (MSA) programme, is designed to address the housing crisis among the poor and most-vulnerable.

Addressing a recent official handover ceremony for a one-bedroom unit in Heywood Hall, St. Mary, portfolio minister, Desmond McKenzie, said the initiative is reflective of the government’s policy to elevate the standard of housing for the poor and to maintain the dignity of this population.

“Since we started this programme, we have completed the projects on time and within the budget that has been allocated for each house since 2017, and that is an outstanding achievement,” he said, adding that the necessary checks and balances have been implemented and strictly adhered to, to ensure transparency and oversight.

In 2022 alone, the ministry completed 25 units benefiting primarily elderly single people and families.

Corporate secretary, Board of Supervision, Treka Lewis, said the indigent housing programme was reinstated in 2017 to meet the high demand for housing by this vulnerable population.

“The gratitude expressed by the recipients is at times overwhelming, as without this support and intervention of the State, they would not have been able to afford the physical comforts of a home,” she noted.

Lewis said subsidised housing, whether in the form of a full unit or assistance with renovations, continues to be one of the main requests made to each municipal corporation through its Poor Relief Department, which currently caters to more than 14,000 adult registered poor.

“From field visits, many of these individuals’ housing conditions are structurally unsafe and in a deplorable condition and sometimes non-existent,” she shared.

Applicants for the Indigent Housing Programme are screened through the Poor Relief Department, where an investigation is conducted and a verification procedure undertaken to determine need.

The ministry also carries out a technical assessment of the land to determine suitability.

Applicants must demonstrate ownership of the property on which the unit is to be built and provide the relevant documentation as proof that they are lawfully entitled to build on the land.

The ministry has developed three types of housing solutions – a studio unit, a one-bedroom unit, and a two-bedroom family unit. The houses are made of concrete for longevity and sloped roofs that enable water harvesting. Basic furnishing is also included.

This programme has been prioritised as a vital component of the ministry’s social protection strategy.