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PM breaks ground for 1,200 new houses in St Catherine

Jamaica Information Service – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has broken ground for construction of 1,200 new houses at Silver Sun Estates in Innswood, St. Catherine, which will be sold through the National Housing Trust (NHT).

These two-bedroom homes will be built by West Indies Home Contractors Limited (WIHCON) under the NHT’s new Guaranteed Purchase Programme (GPP), through which the agency agrees to purchase houses for its customers that are designed and constructed by developers.

The NHT will purchase all or an agreed number of units, thereby relieving the developers of the associated market risk under GPP.

“I see this programme as a very successful programme, and I think that in the coming months, it will be expanded [and] as more and more developers and contractors see the programme working, they will want to participate,” Prime Minister Holness said at the ceremony to break ground on Wednesday (April 24).

He noted that the GPP offers the private sector the opportunity to create an environment that is more manageable for developers, giving them the ability to bring their development projects to the NHT for consideration.

“What we are seeing is that these housing solutions are coming in at lower prices than if they were sold on the open market… . These houses [at Silver Sun Estates] are coming in the region of about $10 million to $11 [million], which is fairly good given the amenities that will be on the property and the kind of development that you will have. In fact, it is a really good price,” Mr. Holness said.

He added that “the NHT also ensures that the developer is not able to, in any way, take advantage of the facility, so in some instances, the prices are fixed, and in other instances, there is an agreement up front as to what areas of fluctuation would be considered”.

WIHCON Chairman, Peter Melhado, for his part, said his organisation and its partners are pleased to collaborate with the NHT for this new public-private sector initiative.

“We’re excited because we get to build 1,200 homes of a very high standard in an ideal location just minutes away from the Spanish Town city centre… . At this altitude or this elevation, you can see the plains of St. Catherine, so it really is a beautiful site; beautiful location,” he noted.

He added, “We look forward to many of these developments in the future with NHT as a partner.”

Mr. Melhado said WIHCON aims to construct 200 of the 1,200 houses in phase one by next March.

The Prime Minister, in his 2019/2020 budget presentation in March, informed that the NHT had approved four projects under GPP, comprising 2,143 new houses, since its launch in November 2018.

He said the projects include 2,050 one- and two-bedroom units in St. Catherine, another 41 in Westmoreland and 52 two-bedroom houses in St. Elizabeth.

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