I totally agree with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s statement that the National Housing Trust (NHT) is not a charity organisation and no one should think otherwise.
The trust was the creation of former Prime Minister Michael Manley and was designed to help working middle-class and poor people with their housing solutions by way of their contributions to the fund. It is not a freeness-distribution programme. A former housing minister indicated that one-third of the population are squatters, which, in itself, is rather unfortunate and unacceptable.
Those same people and others like them don’t believe in paying for electricity or water. As a society we shouldn’t encourage this kind of behaviour or attitude, neither should we encourage squatting.
The plain truth is a sizeable section of the population does not like to pay bills; they strongly believe in the freeness mentality. Yet these same people wouldn’t hesitate to go out and buy bleaching cream for their skin or extensions for their hair and nails.
My view is that the NHT should not only live up to its mandate but also give preferential treatment to police officers, soldiers, warders, nurses, teachers, aides, and other professionals who serve the country while making their respective contributions.
And what about the squatter settlement across from the University Hospital of the West Indies? Those folks should have been long relocated and the site developed.
How, without any contribution, can one expect a house from the Government? That is not what the trust was intended to be. For example, a while ago the trust built some fancy town houses on Little King Street in Denham Town in close proximity to the Denham Town Police Station with a monthly $5,000 mortgage. The people claim they couldn’t afford it. Why? Because they want them for free. Let’s be realistic, who cannot afford a $5,000-a-month mortgage for a town house?
The housing trust erred. Poor people need basic housing, and those housing solutions should have been given to police officers instead, especially the ones who are attached to the station in the area.
Another example is the high-rise buildings that are located in Rae Town, near the corner of Camp Road and East Queen Street. These could have been awarded to police officers and correction officers who work at the Central Police Station and the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, among others. Instead, I was told that most of them were captured.
The NHT needs to focus on attracting professionals and others who can contribute to the housing fund so that more houses can be built for the poor and middle class.
Westchester, New York