KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Government will be moving to improve social conditions in communities such as Kingston Central, utilising the Housing Act, says Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Speaking at the handover of a three-bedroom social housing unit, on Tower Street, in Kingston Central, on Wednesday, Holness said the area is one of the oldest residential communities in the island, with many of the houses built over 70 years ago.
He added that the houses are deteriorating, and a transformation programme is being worked on for such communities.
Holness said it is challenging to embark on the upgrading programme, because of ownership issues, where people have abandoned lands in the areas, owners cannot be located, and in some cases, persons have taken them over and “are using them for criminal activities”.
“We will intervene. We are working on a programme that will use power under the Housing Act to get these lands that are now abandoned and unutilised,” he said, noting that the conditions in such communities cause people not to feel good about their surroundings, so the Government will be improving the infrastructure.
At the same time, the prime minister reported that since the recent imposition of a State of Emergency (SOE) in Central Kingston, the murder rate and other violent crime rates have dropped, and residents are pleased for the “reprieve that they are able to enjoy”.
Holness stated that he is satisfied that the State can assist in the provision of improved dwellings under the New Social Housing Programme (NSHP) for “those living under terrible conditions”.
For his part, Member of Parliament for Kingston Central, Donovan Williams, said he is giving priority to the improvement of the housing stock in the constituency, and described the NSHP as a “wonderful programme”.
In the meantime, beneficiary of the housing unit, Keisha Hind, whose previous dwelling was destroyed by fire in 2012, said the $7 million unit is “a life changing gesture”.
“I want you to know that what you have given us is not just a structure but pride of joy and a sense of belonging,” she added.
The NSHP, established by the prime minister in 2018, operates under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment Programme (HOPE), through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation. The initiative aims to improve the housing conditions of Jamaica's most needy citizens.
It consists of three modalities – provision of indigent housing, which will see 315 housing units, five per constituency, constructed per annum; relocation of vulnerable communities, which will give priority to individuals in imminent danger; and the upgrading of tenement yards, one per constituency.
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