Sun | Jan 20, 2019

HAJ makeover - Housing agency to show new face after a series of missteps

Published:Saturday | February 10, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
Richard Jones

Rocked by several allegations of mismanagement and frequent queries from the auditor general over its handling of State resources, the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) has embarked on a campaign to repair its image, and the current management is anxious to get the word out.

"We have been doing a lot of good things and we want to get the message out that the HAJ is here, (and) it's here to stay. It is viable, it's doing a lot of things and we want to bring the public more into the fold to let them know what is happening," said Richard Jones, public relations and marketing manager at a Gleaner Editors' Forum on Wednesday.

"We are still suffering from the lingering bad image of the past. Our hope is that word is getting out that HAJ in on the mend and that the HAJ is doing positive things out there for the people of Jamaica," added Jones.


Eyes on community engagement


From reports of losses amounting to $900 million in one financial year to the firing of five senior managers in 2016, the organisation, which is now celebrating 10 years, says it is looking more into community engagement.

According to Jones, the entity has had difficulties distinguishing itself from the National Housing Development Corporation which existed prior to a merger that led to the creation of the HAJ.

He argued that there are a number of housing projects that the public are unaware of the HAJ's involvement.

These include Palms of Portmore, Westmeade, Portmore Villas, Portmore Country Club 2, Stadium Gardens 2 and 3, Luana in St Elizabeth, Lilford Avenue and The Vistas in Runaway Baym St Ann.

"Our job in public relations is not to paint a false picture but to bring out much more the positive side of what we do," says Jones as he noted that the HAJ is a land and housing development company that provides islandwide shelter solutions for Jamaicans.