Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Jamaicans have right to shelter

Published:Wednesday | May 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Jamaica must give a mighty thank you to the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI), led by co-executive director Dr Damien King, for its very revealing study of the National Housing Trust (NHT).

At the start of the serious examination of the findings of this study that should follow, there is a fundamental consideration that must be put on the table early. It is the right to shelter. Every human has a right to shelter. It is a basic right asserted by the Universal Declaration of Rights and regularly affirmed by United Nations organisations.

The fact, however, is that homelessness has been a rising phenomenon worldwide. Jamaica has its homeless. Worse, Jamaica has a very large number of illegal settlers, that is, squatters. The NHT has reached fewer than a quarter of lower-income folk. After making a start in the 1970s with a piece of a house that the householder then completed, it swung to providing only complete units. Essentially, it gave up on reaching the many without income who cannot manage the mortgage payments.

The result is the huge inequity disclosed by CAPRI, a grave injustice to our people. The 'how' of the remedy, the financing, the use of NHT's money pile, the kind of housing whether by owning or renting, will take months of discussion. But through it all, the basic right to shelter must be addressed.