I enjoy traveling (duh!) so much that one of my philosophies happens to be ‘home is internal’ but I am sure that if I were among the 100,000 homeless Jamaicans I would barely have the opportunity to travel. But let us imagine that by some stroke of luck I did, my journeys would be fruitless because everyone who has ever gone anywhere knows that half the joy of travel is in the coming home.
The Jamaican government has denied approximately 7,0001 average Jamaican families home ownership by allocating $45 billion from the National Housing Trust (NHT) [which is ‘entrusted with the mission of increasing and enhancing the stock of available housing in Jamaica as well as providing financial assistance to the most needy of our Contributors who wish to build, to buy or to repair their homes’] to a four-year fiscal consolidation plan. This ‘plan’ has not yet been explained in full to Jamaicans, who were informed of this and other shady measures during a national broadcast that ended with Minister Peter Phillips kissing our dear Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller on the cheek.
Why does the NHT have so much money to spare when many Jamaicans live in substandard conditions, on literal gully banks in lean-tos that can be taken away in the wink of an eye? Why does the NHT have so much money to spare when 120 persons labelled as squatters were evicted from a property and were only provided with communal tents? Why does the NHT have so much money to spare when a common feature of the dwellings of many constituents of both persons who presented this broadcast and several in their cabinet are shaky, corrugated walls, ready to be taken by the wind? Poverty, torment and violence seem to be the only thing Jamaican politicians desire to cultivate.
I have been contributing to the NHT for six years but like many Jamaicans I do not yet own a home, primarily because I do not consider myself ready for a mortgage, and the sum the NHT is offering single applicants will not allow me anything that suits my tastes. Come to think of it, $216,000 of NHT’s money has come from my salary2 and while that sum cannot build anyone a home, I feel entitled to a say in what they do with it. I at least want a clear explanation as to what exactly the money will be doing, what the implications will be for my monthly contributions or any mortgage I will apply for and what plan is, if any, for replenishing this money.
Home is a shelter from storms — all sorts of storms.
~ William J. Bennett
Housing is an integral part of any society and all aspects thereof have large repercussions for the economy; you simply cannot have an economic plan and hinge it on taking funds from a housing agency- it sends the wrong message. Even if the money goes to good use the agency is already failing at its mandate and the right sentiments have not been expressed by our
government on the matter. I sincerely hope every contributing Jamaican takes this loan/gift to heart, even if (like many religious fanatics, common in Jamaica) you have lost faith in owning a home in this life and only have the one in heaven waiting.