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Provision of housing enhances prospects for sustainable economic growth — Holness

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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ST JAMES, Jamaica (JIS) — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says failure by regional leaders to provide housing for their citizens will inevitably undermine their prospects for sustainable economic growth.

Delivering the main address at the 2017 Regional Housing Conference at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites in St James yesterday, Holness said owning a house is one of the biggest accomplishments any person can achieve, adding that the housing sector acts as “a catalyst for many other desirable social and economic outcomes”.

“It is an avenue to greater wealth generation. It promotes job creation… enhances the sense of security and stimulates investment,” he said.

The prime minister argued that owning real estate assets and transferring them from generation to generation is something “we can readily accept”, noting that it creates “intergenerational wealth… and the likelihood that the next generation will enjoy a better standard of living”.

“All households being able to access affordable, appropriate and legal housing options in liveable, vibrant, inclusive and aesthetically pleasing communities are, therefore, critical to the socio-economic fabric of any nation. If we fail to provide this for our citizens, we are essentially undermining any other growth strategies we pursue,” he said.

Holness implored the conference participants that as they think of the myriad factors needed to ensure that the region's housing sector provides safe, legal and affordable housing, it is important to remember that “no one must be left behind”.

The prime minister reminded that the housing sector plan for Vision 2030 states that “ideally in the year 2030, every household should be living in a well-constructed dwelling unit”.

“This vision of the housing-sector plan embodies the concept that housing represents a broad continuum of affordable and appropriate housing options relating to the incomes of targeted groups,” he explained.

Holness emphasised that the housing sector must be reorganized to reflect the provision of housing units for the regular open market and the provision of housing for those who cannot afford housing units in this category.

The prime minister said that by understanding this, prospective homeowners would now have an opportunity to own a home.

“We must urgently deploy relevant policies and programmes to satisfy the number of intended beneficiaries demanding affordable, safe and legal housing solutions,” Holness continued.

“In light of this, the National Housing Trust recently undertook a strategic review, so that they can more effectively and efficiently expand the opportunities for Jamaicans to own their homes using the standard legally accepted process of home and land ownership,” he added.

Holness noted that the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica 2016 shows that housing starts for 2016 were increased from 1,555 units to 3,024 units when compared with 2015.

“The National Hosing Trust (NHT) is on track to do over 5,500 housing starts for 2017. The NHT's four-year housing programme for April 2016 to March 2020 includes the thrust to start 15,000 housing solutions by March 2020,” he pointed out.

The three-day Regional Housing Conference is being led by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and aims to identify practical solutions and industry best practices to resolve the challenges facing the Caribbean housing sector, particularly in the context of climate change and urbanisation.

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