Minister Charles promises comprehensive housing policy

Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr has promised a comprehensive national housing policy to address Jamaica’s complex housing challenges.

Making his contribution to the sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Charles said that the policy will be coupled with the necessary regulatory guidelines and operational procedures to introduce innovation and efficiency in the building designs and systems, as the country moves toward sustainability.

He said that the Government would be working with developers to bring the price down to an average of $5 million for a standard one-bedroom unit, and $8 million for a two-bedroom unit.

A draft national housing policy, said Charles, being developed by chief technical director in the ministry, Doreen Prendergast, and her team, specifically seeks to address issues relating to access to finance, improving the supply of housing options and enhancing affordability, while integrating climate resilience and sustainable building practices in how houses are designed and constructed.

A national housing policy, said Charles, was tabled in Parliament as a Green Paper in 2019, and his ministry is moving quickly to have the policy tabled as a White Paper before the end of this fiscal year.

The policy, he said, will include an implementation plan and public education campaign to ensure accountability for the execution and efficiency of its measures.

“We are engaging Jamaica in a national conversation on housing,” he added, noting that in April the ministry hosted a series of consultations under the theme ‘Let’s Talk Housing’, which engaged various stakeholders, including youth leaders, developers and mortgage institutions.

He said that the draft policy will be amended to incorporate feedback from these consultations, and its approval will mark the adoption of the first ever comprehensive housing policy to govern the housing sector in Jamaica’s history.

“This is how we renew Jamaica by improving housing supply, through the construction of 70,000 houses in five years,” said Charles.

“This Government is addressing the persistent and pervasive problems of unmet demand and inadequate housing supply,” he added.

“… Within the next five years the NHT (National Housing Trust), under the prime minister’s leadership, and the HAJ (Housing Agency of Jamaica) have committed to 43,000 and 14,000 housing starts, respectively,” he said.

“We are mindful that, even as we boost [about] housing supply, affordability remains a challenge for many. So we acknowledge that we must redefine affordability as we increase the availability of housing solutions,” he stated.



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