Regional conference to discuss housing starts tomorrow

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Housing cost and financing are high on the agenda of the Regional Housing Conference slated for October 18 to 20 at the Iberostar Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, St James.

Themed 'Providing Safe, Legal and Affordable Housing for All: From Policy to Implementation', the conference will identify practical solutions and industry best practices to resolve the challenges facing the Caribbean housing sector.

General Manager of the Jamaica Mortgage Bank and member of the conference committee, Courtney Wynter, told JIS News that the conference will present the opportunity to explore best practices to address issues in the housing sector, including those related to housing finance, affordability, and bridging the gap between housing need, demand and supply.

“There is a gap of about 18,000 housing solutions each year, and a huge part of that is affordability, and so we are going to have that type of conversation at the regional housing conference looking at the demand side of housing and the supply side.

Discussions will include how do we finance the supply of housing, and how do we supply liquidity and funding for housing development that drives economic development,” Wynter said.

“In developed countries, some jurisdictions have mortgages to gross domestic product (GDP) at about 64 or up to 80 per cent, and what this means is that these jurisdictions use mortgages and housing as a driver for economic development, and so, we need to have a discussion in Jamaica regarding the financing of mortgages as well as housing development,” he argued.

He added that on day two of the conference, papers would be presented on credit, access to finance and means of unlocking liquidity and funding in Jamaica to provide and facilitate the supply of housing.

Topics for discussion include national housing demand, evaluating housing options in Jamaica, unlocking the liquidity needed to meet the growing demand for affordable housing and providing the stimulus for economic growth, and government mortgage lending.

Other areas to be explored include building technology within a changing environment, housing and land tenure, and housing sector management.

Day one of the conference will facilitate registration, and the opening ceremony is to be addressed by Prime Minister, Andrew Holness.

On days two and three, there will be feature presentations from technocrats in the housing sector, persons from the building and civil societies, and mortgage institutions.

Key participants will include representatives from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Cities Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, and United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing ministers, developers, policymakers and other key stakeholders from across the region will attend the conference, including representatives and groups from St. Lucia, Barbados and Montserrat.

The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will be hosting the conference, with sponsorship from the National Housing Trust (NHT), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union Limited.

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