PM: 10,000 social housing intervention solutions needed
Septuagenarian grateful for new three-bedroom house
It is estimated that as many as 10,000 Jamaican households are in need of social housing intervention, according to Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness.
He made the revelation while handing over the key of ‘Hope’ used to open the door leading into a new three-bedroom house constructed for 70-year-old Brenda May Grant in Morefield in Wakefield, Trelawny, Friday afternoon.
Grant, who lived in a one-bedroom board house with her three grandchildren, cried intermittent tears of joy during the ceremony, lauding Holness and Trelawny Northern Member of Parliament (MP) Tova Hamilton for the new house.
Built within six weeks, it is the 74th house handed over to some of the most vulnerable in the society in just over a year under the New Social Housing Project. The initiative has been such a success, with Holness acknowledging that, for the past four or five months, handing over homes has become his Friday pastime once he is on the island.
He is hoping the project will get to the stage where it becomes one or two houses donated to the most vulnerable on a weekly basis.
“My commitment is ensuring that we give proper shelter to all Jamaicans,” he told the gathering who turned out to herald the moment despite a downpour.
As for Grant, who worked in the sugar cane fields in Trelawny as well as washed clothing for a living in her early years, Friday was an extremely proud moment.
“Mi feel joyful. Give God thanks and praise,” she stated, lifting up her hands to the heavens as she revelled in the information on the number of bedrooms she was moving into.
LEAVING A OLD HOME BEHIND
“I was living in one little old house up there,” she said, pointing in the direction of the home she leaves behind. A number of other houses are situated on the land, which seem to be family plots.
“It look bad, because Miss Tova come and look at it and said it nuh suitable to live at.” She admitted that her house was not leaking, but that the boards were old and were getting worn. Moreover, she lived with two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Her case was handled quickly by her MP, she boasted, noting that the application process started last December and, by February, the workmen were at the site and, within weeks, the $6.5-million house was completed.
“The technology exists to build a house like this in a week,” Holness declared, pointing out that, once refined to that level of precision, the Government will be moving to ramp up the initiative.
He argued that the important part of the exercise was not so much the speed of the construction, or the reduction in the price of the construction, but more about the hope that it brings.
Acknowledging that he wouldn’t be able to provide 10,000 solutions within two years, Holness said what was critical was the fact the process was in place and has started to address the most pressing issues.
“What we’re finding is that this project is about giving hope because, if people don’t have hope, despair will set in. If people don’t have hope, then they will take a pessimistic view of the future. And, if people don’t have hope, they will not make sacrifices now that are in the best interest of their future.”
Hamilton, who is gaining a reputation of being a no-nonsense political representative, said that, if she were given the opportunity to select a recipient all over again, her choice would still be Grant.
“A most deserving person is the recipient of this house today. You are symbolic of our grandmothers and mothers, who work all their lives and make sacrifices for their families,” she told Grant, urging others around to embrace the catalyst to generational wealth.