Government seeking squatting solutions - Ja to seek answers to squatting problems at housing and urbanisation conference
Published: Sunday | May 24, 2009
Minister of Water and Housing Horace Chang arrived at Jamaica house for a three-day retreat, February 20. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer
GOVERNMENT officials will be seeking fresh answers for the chronic squatting problem in their own backyard during an international housing and urbanisation conference scheduled for later this year.
Jamaica, through the Ministry of Water and Housing, will play host to the 18th annual MINURVI Conference, July 15 to 17 in Montego Bay, St James.
Winsome Christie, director of communications in the Ministry of Water and Housing, told The Sunday Gleaner that squatting would be on the conference agenda.
The themes of the conference are 'Financing Social Housing in view of the World Economic Crisis' and 'Housing in Risky Situations'.
Doreen Prendergast, senior director of housing solutions in the ministry, said the country's efforts to contain the squatting crisis should be assisted, as best practices will be highlighted during the forum.
She disclosed that officials from other countries that have to tackle squatting are scheduled to attend the conference.
"We stand to benefit from some of the experiences and practices that they have utilised," Prendergast said. She noted that the conference "can't just be a talk shop".
While highlighting that much effort is being put into addressing the squatting problem, Prendergast admitted that the water and housing ministry does not have all the answers. "The whole dynamic nature (of squatting) tells you that it is a work in progress," she said.
While the ministry will be seeking more innovative squatting solutions at the conference, the social predicament is not the only issue that will be discussed at the event which is principally about defining policy. Housing vulnerabilities brought on by climate change and other environmental factors will also be up for discussion.
MINURVI is a general assembly of ministers and high-level authorities on housing and urbanisation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Minister of Water and Housing Dr Horace Chang is the current MINURVI president for the 2008/2009 period. The presidency was officially transferred to Jamaica at last year's conference, which was held in El Salvador.
The three-day conference will be attended by housing and urbanisation ministers from across Latin America and the Caribbean.
As part of its mandate, MINURVI also reviews the progress of the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in the region.