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Senate Committee quiz NHT on Housing allocation to disabled

Published:Wednesday | November 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

With the National Housing Trust (NHT) allocating two one-bedroom houses out of a total of 1,500 units at the Estuary scheme in Friendship, St James, to the disabled community, members of the Regulations Committee of the Senate pressed for an increase in the number, arguing that it was inadequate.

A breakdown of allocations to other groups include 50 units for young adults; 15 to members of the Jamaica Teachers' Association; 10 each to members of the police force, the Jamaica Defence Force, and nurses.

The Regulations Committee of the Senate had considered and approved on Friday a Special Benefit Order for the Estuary housing scheme in St James.

Chairman of the committee Matthew Samuda and committee member Sophia Fraser Binns said that two units were not indicative of the population of the disabled community in Jamaica.

A 2001 census indicated that the size of the disabled community in Jamaica was some 160,000 persons. Since that time, there have been estimates of more than 400,000.

Lanie Oakley Williams, senior general manager of the NHT, said that while two units have been set aside for the disabled, members of that community could also apply in the pool of general contributors.




"What this Special Benefit Order does is to have a special amount for these special-interest groups, so they would have a separate queue," she said.

Samuda asked NHT officials if additional units could be provided to the disabled.

"What we have found, though, [is that] not all of them are taken up. Sometimes we have reservations for the disabled, but their challenge is oftentimes affordability and so we actually, right now, have reservations for disabled in other schemes, which they have not taken up," Oakley Williams said.

The NHT executive pointed out that the trust also provided special discounts and concessions to the disabled community.

Williams said that disabled persons who get a scheme house are eligible for grants worth $150,000 to retrofit their units.

The cost of the one-bedroom unit is a little less than $4.5 million, and the monthly payment is $11,800 over a 40-year mortgage.

The NHT allocates its scheme units based on a points system. Twenty points are allocated to a contributor for every 52 weeks of contribution.