THE Government is partnering with Food for the Poor to provide 9,000 houses over the next five years for low-income earners across the island.
A contract for construction of the first 1,200 wooden houses and 600 concrete units was signed Tuesday at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing's head offices in Kingston.
Portfolio Minister Dr Omar Davies said the houses will be built under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), with management from the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ).
Work is expected to get underway in another two weeks and continue over a 12-month period.
Davies said that the Government's contribution to the project will be funded through a $500-million grant from the Petro Caribe Development Fund.
Construction of the wooden dwellings will cost approximately US$6,400 per unit, with the Government providing US$3,200 for each unit and Food for the Poor matching the amount. Erection of the concrete structures is projected to cost approximately US$9,500 each.
Under the agreement, Food for the Poor will work with the HAJ to construct the 600 concrete units, which will be sold on the open market by the National Housing Trust, using its priority index system for the selection of beneficiaries.
The 1,200 wooden houses will be built by Food for the Poor and will be distributed islandwide free of cost. Beneficiaries will be drawn from the organisation's existing list of applicants as well as from persons recommended by members of Parliament, councillors, churches, and community groups.
The houses will be built on lands provided by government or those owned or accessed by the beneficiaries.
Davies pointed out that under the agreement Food for the Poor will transfer the technology for constructing the special concrete units to government agencies so that "we should be able to significantly increase the number of such units".
Food for the Poor Chairman Andrew Mahfood said the charity organisation was delighted to partner with the Government to deliver "thousands of shelter needs to poor and low-income households, who are always at a financial disadvantage in acquiring their own home".
He noted that thousands of Jamaicans were not privileged to own a home and this hampers individual productivity and contributes to the dissolution of the family.
Mahfood said this latest partnership was, therefore, a step in the right direction in providing assistance to Jamaicans in need.