Holness says lack of water, sewerage delaying NHT projects

SHREWSBURY, Westmoreland — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says challenges in providing potable water and sewerage are among issues hindering the National Housing Trust’s (NHT) ability to deliver houses on time.

He was explaining why it could take up to six years for the NHT to deliver houses which are in an advanced stage of planning. The state agency’s target is 43,000 new houses.

“There are many projects that are on the books, but we haven’t identified water supply sources as yet. We haven’t identified the sewerage as yet and those issues elongate the development process. I just wanted to bring you in on the process. The houses are there; the plans are there and they are working through them,” Holness assured those gathered for the handing over of 32 NHT houses in Shrewsbury, Westmoreland on Wednesday.

He noted that financing is another factor that causes delay. The prime minister explained that while the NHT is a well-resourced entity, the demand on its resources are many and therefore efforts have to be made to carefully manage its cash flow so that funds are available when projects are ready.

“We have gone through an internal process with the NHT to leverage the resources that we have to match the cash flow with the project timeline. You would have heard some advertising, and I spoke about this last NHT handing-over, where we have made some changes to how loans are issued. That is to enable the NHT to be able to use its own cash to finance projects which are ready for delivery,” said Holness.

He said people waiting for houses are understandably impatient and frustrated, and urged the NHT to move faster.

“I know that the NHT staff is basically stressed out, based on what we have given them in terms of delivering that 43,000 housing solutions. But I do ask you [NHT] to move with greater speed and alacrity, certainly in terms of the administration and the bureaucracy with which you have been able to bring these projects quickly to the market,” Holness urged at the event in Shrewsbury.

The housing development consists of 14 one-bedrooms and 18 studios which went to 25 eligible contributors. The remaining seven went to public sector workers and individuals with disabilities.

Holness noted that 62 per cent of those who earn between minimum wage and $30,000 per week will access their mortgages at zero per cent.

Hospital attendant in the sanitisation department of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital Davie Channar was one of the beneficiaries who received the key to his house on Wednesday. He told the Jamaica Observer that he had been living in a house made of board and he much prefers the concrete structure. He made an application to the NHT last December.

“l keep in touch with them because I want to see how things were going because it was my understanding that the project was on its way so I keep in touch with them until this very moment,” explained Channar.

“To God be the glory. I have been successful in accomplishing my dream,” he added.