HAJ investing in social housing
The Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ) is investing in infrastructural enhancements at several housing developments undertaken by the entity across the island in order to improve the living standard of residents.
Managing Director of the HAJ Gary Howell said that part of the profits made over the last three financial years has gone into infrastructure projects and other works for the well-being of the citizens.
Among the recent projects are drain cleaning and regularisation of electricity in Whitehall, Westmoreland. The agency has also upgraded dirt tracks to paved roads in Copperwood and Red Ground in St James.
Preparations are now being made to commence the extension of drains in Flanker, St James.
The development work is part of a larger social-housing drive being undertaken by the agency.
The concept of social housing refers to the provision of low-cost or subsidised housing for individuals within the lower socio-economic segment of a society. It also speaks to the provision of useful resources and connective services in specific communities to address the social needs of the citizens.
The HAJ, which is a land and housing development company, was established by the Government to provide affordable shelter solutions for Jamaicans islandwide.
Part of its mandate includes upgrading informal settlements in order to regularise these areas.
As such, lands are made available for purchase by individuals who may otherwise not have been able to acquire their own property due to financial constraints. These lands are provided at a significantly reduced cost.
Need for affordable housing growing
The need for affordable housing has continued to grow steadily over the years and is being addressed by the HAJ and the National Housing Trust (NHT) through initiatives such as first-step homes, build on own land, and land titling.
Project Development Analyst at the HAJ Nakia McMorris noted that while the provision of housing helps to improve the quality of life for many," the success of housing programmes goes beyond the implementation of projects and infrastructure to include social well-being outcomes for persons".
She said that a number of factors contribute to an individual's state of well-being such as the way in which homes, communities, and work spaces are designed as well as access to essential support services.
In this regard, the HAJ is now in the planning stage of developing a system that will provide citizens with clear channels to necessary social services.
McMorris said that the necessary partnerships are being worked out with key stakeholders to form a network of state services that most citizens require.
Among the key services are birth and death registration, passports, and health, among others.
"It is something that is seriously being discussed at this time in an effort to create a meaningful impact in these areas in order to improve the general quality of life for the citizens," McMorris said.