Early Christmas for Shaneil Francis
SHANEIL Francis was all smiles on Tuesday when she received the key to a brand new house after last year witnessing the demolition of the house she was working hard to build.
In October last year Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the demolition of houses being constructed illegally on crown lands in Clifton, St Catherine. Consequently, Francis, who thought the land she purchased was legitimate, watched her dreams of becoming a homeowner shatter alongside her hard-earned investment.
Today, Francis is one of 11 people who suffered the aftermath of the demolition to benefit from the New Social Housing Programme.
“My reaction was tears of joy. I was crying because, you know, at such a young age and what happened the last time, to get a second chance to own a home legally is a great experience,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
She received the keys to her new home today during the New Housing Programme handing over ceremony held in Casabanna, Clifton, St Catherine.
Chief technical director of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Authrine Scarlett said the New Social Housing Programme is a response to those in need who are not able to provide housing solutions for themselves.
“And for the single modalities unit, each Member of Parliament, as of now, has allocated five beneficiaries per annum, and once these persons are identified we do a very rigorous screening process internally to make sure that the person who is identified are deserving of the benefit, and at the end of that, once we’re satisfied, the unit is constructed pretty much like what you see we will be handing over,” she said.
“Having a home means a lot to me because you have your own space, somewhere to lay down at nights safe and sound. Before having a home, I would have to stay with friends, back and forth between Kingston and Spanish Town and St Elizabeth. It was a hassle,” Francis said.
Faithey Edmonson-Allen, Francis’s mother, beamed with joy as she watched her daughter’s eyes that were once filled with despair fill with delight.
“I’m so overwhelmed, I’m so happy, I’m so grateful. First, I just give God thanks because it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for God. Even though the prime minister make it possible, through God all things are possible.”
“That’s my baby, I love her and I have her back straight. I’ve been here for her, encouraging her. Yes, when she feel like she not going to get it, I tell her have the faith, God is going to work it out, you’re going to get it because you speak positive things, you get positive results,” she added.
Member of Parliament for St Catherine Southern, Fitz Jackson, who was at the ceremony said, “I am very happy for Miss Francis. I was here with her the morning of the demolition, I felt her pain and I guess Jamaica saw and felt her pain and you felt her pain, Prime Minister.”
The New Social Housing Programme is funded by the Government of Jamaica through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.
Prime Minister Holness, in closing remarks, told Francis, “Merry Christmas!” after officially cutting the ribbon for her new home and early Christmas gift.
“It is indeed my great pleasure to hand over to you, in time for Christmas, your own house, well-built, formally done, and this is going to assist you in creating the inter-generational wealth, because this is not just for you, but I know you have told me that you have to look out for your mother and your other siblings, so this is going to help the family,” he said.