Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Craft credible housing policy

Published:Friday | November 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM


It is interesting to observe how the Outameni debacle has sparked a discussion on housing solutions. Jamaica has a housing problem that has been ignored by successive governments. A socialist programme such as the National Housing Trust (NHT) has failed to deliver housing to low-income earners and has no solution for 'no-income/some-income earners'.

Many of us would support the Government raiding - or borrowing - from the NHT to build low-income housing. Sadly, the political party that has ruled the country for the majority of the past 42 years and who gave us the NHT has failed to put its money where its mouth is. The failure of Michael Manley goes well beyond the 1970s and stands out more clearly with the current crop of Comrades.

The NHT is "entrusted with the mission of increasing and enhancing the stock of available housing ... to the neediest contributors ...". The mission of the NHT excludes too many of our citizens. How active is the NHT in expanding its list of contributors?

The Government has to take up the slack and ensure that each of our citizens be given consideration for housing solutions. None must be forgotten. We can take a page from the South African Housing Policy, which spreads housing solutions across a wider economic base beyond low-income solutions.

South Africa has a significant shortage of housing for the poor, but is delivering hundreds of homes annually through active government participation. While we may frown on the Rural Development Programme in South Africa, it offers hope for the very poor who are living in informal settlements.

Before we start solving our affordable housing problem, we may need to debate some cultural and political issues that stand in the way of workable solutions. An urban solution is perhaps difficult based on our political propensity to garrisonise the poor. Further, we have to look at the affordability of all building material and stop being stuck on the idea that 'block house stronger'.

Go to Black River and see all the beautiful board Victorian homes that have stood for well over a hundred years. Likewise, the size of the home must fit the income, and we should not expect the Government to build mansions.


Don't swallow LaTouche's red herring


Most of us are familiar (or should be) with logical fallacies that may be grouped according to relevance, ambiguity and presumption. It is the fallacy of relevance that has become the ruling party's weapon of choice whenever confronted with an issue or problem to which it can provide no rational or acceptable response.

Percival LaTouche, in his capacity as member of the board of the National Housing Trust, has mastered said fallacy with his shameless application of the red herring. Who can blame him? It has been a useful tool in the past for many on both sides of the House.

In his response to issues raised by Daryl Vaz, Mr LaTouche makes reference to the infamous West Kingston incident. It is not, however, to be viewed as convenient distraction whenever hard questions are asked by the Queen's loyal Opposition, the response to which may show the Government in a bad light.

Mr LaTouche and others with the same inclination should be made aware that even the party faithful are aware that this red herring is nothing but a weak attempt at obfuscation and avoidance whose efficacy is quickly dwindling. Life, after all, goes on.

Mr LaTouche and his fellow board members would have been better served by a less rancorous and defensive response.


Kingston 20

I'd rather go to my grave a spinster, Lyston


When I first came across Steve Lyston's article (Gleaner, 'Marital rape: an attack on Christian principles', November 10, 2014), to say I was highly offended is an understatement. To use the Bible to justify something as vile and disgusting as rape is beyond my comprehension.

It left me wondering if this gentleman had any female relatives or, quite frankly, if he had lost his mind. It seems that he had forgotten that the God who authored the very Bible that he quoted from repeatedly gave us FREE WILL. If God himself will not force obedience, what makes him think that he, or any other man, has the right?

I freely admit that I am no Christian and that I have fallen so far from God, I sometimes wonder if I will ever find my way back. I also make no claims to being able to quote scriptures. However, I do know and believe that there is no way that God would condone or reward the harming of His children.

How can someone who calls himself a Christian, and an educated individual at that, put forward such preposterous ideas. If submitting anytime a man gets an itch is what I have to look forward to as a Christian or a married woman, not only will I be single for the rest of my life, but I think I'll also take my chances as a sinner.

Thank you, Ms Davia Andrews (Gleaner, 'So we should just spread 'em and take it, huh?', November 1, 2014) for so eloquently putting together the words that I myself could not find to adequately express my annoyance and displeasure.