A house for Patsy
"Thanks, thanks, thanks," was all that Patsy Wheatley, a senior citizen of Palmer's Cross, Clarendon, could mutter as she claimed the keys to her new home courtesy of the Indigent Housing Programme, powered by the local government ministry.
The house, which is more than 200 square feet, also has an emergency exit.
At the handover ceremony, Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie said that over the years, too many people have only talked about the poor but did nothing to address their conditions, resulting in many of them being left behind.
"The Ministry of Local Government and the direction of the government of the day is to ensure that we improve the bread basket of those who are less fortunate and destitute in the society," he said. He added that too often, there was "a general feeling that once you reach a certain age, you must be disregarded and treated as if you are of no use".
McKenzie also used the opportunity to encourage councillors to do their best within their limitations and not just for their party supporters.
"The services you give must never be predicated on what party you support," he said.
Clarendon benefited from two houses for the indigent, the first one being in the Crofts Hill community. McKenzie said that the idea is to build 28 such houses across the island, with a goal of building 60 houses by the end of 2019.
The new financial year will see more benefits being provided to the poor, the minister said. He noted that there would be an increase of $25 million for social protection to ensure that there is enough money to build the remaining houses.
The next phase of the indigent housing programme will include east rural St Andrew and St Thomas.