‘This house is a top priority’
Beneficiaries overwhelmed by gift of social housing; Holness says Gov’t delivering assets to ‘poor families’
THE LIVING conditions of two different sets of families who reside in east central St James were vastly improved after they were each presented with the keys to their own two-bedroom house by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The houses were made possible under the Government’s new social housing programme at a combined value of over $10 million.
“This house is a top priority. Outside of my children, this is the biggest achievement in my life so far,” Beverly Thompson said in an interview with The Gleaner on Friday, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Latium, St James.
“If you had given me the money that it takes to build this house I am not sure that my living condition would have changed, because I would be trying to send my children to university, and the approximately $5 million would be gone in school-related expenses,” she shared.
“I’m happy that I got this beautiful two-bedroom house, I was in dire need of it. I made the request for help through my member of parliament, Edmund Bartlett, when the COVID pandemic had just started in 2020, and now I have a comfortable house which I will make into a home,” Thompson said of her new house.
Over in Gilsbro, Jermaine Clarke and his family were equally delighted to be holding the keys to their own house, this after living in poor conditions, and oftentimes forced to return to his mother’s house in order to experience a comfortable environment.
“It means a lot now that I have my space,” Clarke said as tears, indicating unspeakable joy, flowed down his face.
He noted that times have been very hard for him over many years, which is the reason why he did not have a comfortable place to live and properly care for his family.
For his part, Holness said the Government is seeking to provide 1,000 housing solutions to needy families across the country, by building houses and handing them over for the beneficiaries to own.
“What we are doing is not just giving a home, we are giving an asset to a poor family, who could now take this asset and use it to break the cycle of poverty,” he said, while delivering the main address at a ceremony to hand over the two houses on Friday.
“I can safely say, all the monies allocated to this house is right there, you are looking at it; and what we spend on compliance, nothing went into anybody else’s pocket that shouldn’t get it. All of them, all the houses that we have built, all the money allocated for them is either there or in compliance,” the prime minister assured.
“This house can be built in a day, believe it or not. We have seen other societies deploy their technical expertise to build hospitals in the pandemic in days; this little (structure), not even 200 square foot, this can be done in a day,” Holness affirmed.
“There are technologies and procedures and systems that exist that can do this in a day, but we have a psychology, a thing in our culture, that if it don’t take long enough its done properly,” he noted.
“This one took four weeks, still too long to build that little something; it can be done far more speedily and efficiently,” Holness said of the timeline in which social houses are being delivered.