(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Ninety-five-year-old Nora Johnson, a resident of Mendez district in Point Hill, St Catherine, is the latest recipient of a new home under the Government’s Indigent Housing Programme, which is expected to significantly improve her standard of living.
Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie presented her with the keys to the newly constructed dwelling during a ceremony in the community on Monday.
“I feel happy and I feel proud. I appreciate it and I am glad. I am thankful for it,” Johnson told JIS News afterwards.
She said the concrete studio unit, which comprises a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, now ensures that “no rain wetting me again [and] no water coming in”.
It represents a major improvement on the previous structure, which was erected on the same property, that she occupied for many years but which eventually fell into disrepair.
In his remarks, McKenzie noted that the unit is the 14th to be completed under the Indigent Housing Programme over the last two years.
“We have another four under construction and there is one more for the parish. I am expecting that by the end of the calendar year, we will have completed the target that was set. As a matter of fact, we are going to surpass the target that was set for the year, which is 28, based on the number of houses that are presently [being constructed],” he said.
The minister noted that a new feature of the latest house constructed is the installation of a water tank, which will be replicated for all units to be built across the country.
Under the indigent housing programme, the Government continues to improve the living conditions of many Jamaicans, particularly those in dire need of assistance, by providing them with housing solutions free of cost.
The programme provides modern concrete homes for indigent persons living outside the infirmary system.
McKenzie pointed out that there are 14,000 registered poor across the country, a significant number of whom “fall well below the level that they can find housing solutions for themselves”.
“Outside of building these units, the Government, through the ministry, has provided an additional $20 million to be shared across each municipality for the poor relief officers to carry out repairs to houses that are occupied by registered poor,” he informed.
Individuals are chosen following a needs-based investigation by the Poor Relief Department in each parish, through which indigent housing is channelled.
An investigation is carried out for people who apply or individuals who are already within the system and are in need of housing.
The Poor Relief Department falls under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.