NHT Initiatives announced by the Prime Minister in Parliament on March 21, 2017

Housing Delivery

By March 2020, the NHT will have started work on approximately 15,000 housing solutions. With the Trust pursuing further public private partnerships, the expectation is that this number will significantly increase.

During the first year (2016/2017), the NHT started work on approximately 3,060 solutions; and for the 2017/2018 financial year, the NHT will start construction on another 5,737 housing solutions. Completions during FY 2017/2018 is slated to number 1,682 solutions in St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, and St. James with the total housing expenditure budgeted at $28.6 billion.

Mortgage Financing:

Still on the subject of housing provision, the PM noted the following additional initiatives:

  • 8000 loans slated for 2017/2018: For the upcoming financial year, the NHT plans to write over 8,000 new loans at a value of $17.8B. With the other policy changes in place, the number of loans being taken up by low income earners is expected to increase substantially. It should be noted that a significant portion of the solutions to be delivered by the NHT will be aligned to the affordability levels of persons earning minimum wage to $12,000 weekly.
  • 100% mortgage financing for NHT Scheme solutions: A special incentive will also be made to eligible contributors who wish to purchase scheme units. Subject to affordability, the NHT will offer 100% financing for all the housing units it produces. This policy takes effect on July 1, 2017.
  • Increase in HI Loan Limit: Currently the NHT’s Home Improvement loan is at $1.5 million for each contributor. Effective July 1, 2017 there will be a 67% increase in the loan limit, with each eligible contributor being able to access up to $2.5 million, and jointly $5.0 million.
  • Increase in House Lot Loan Limit: Effective July 1, 2017, loans to purchase land (House Lot loans) will be increased to $2.5 million from the previous limit of $2 million. This is a 25% increase over the original amount.

Home Grants: The NHT will implement policies, as of July 1, this year, to ensure that any individual contributing for seven years or more, and who meets the NHT eligibility requirements, can 2 access funding from the NHT to purchase, at minimum, a studio unit, based on NHT’s standard pricing. This means that the limit for the Home Grant will move in line with the difference between the price of a studio unit and the individual’s affordability.

Mortgage and Interest Rate Concessions for Persons with Disabilities:

Persons with disabilities came in for special consideration in the PM’s presentation to Parliament. The PM announced that as of July 1, 2017, the NHT will improve its benefits to persons with disabilities. In this regard, a grant of $150,000 per contributor, will be provided to NHT mortgagors with disabilities, or who reside with and care for a family member with disabilities. The grant is to be used to retrofit/upgrade the dwelling to make it suitable to serve the needs of the disabled.

The Trust will also provide further interest rate subsidies by way of special mortgage discount where the disabled person has a mortgage with another recognized financial institution and meets the requirements under this initiative.

Housing For Tourism Workers

The PM said the government is paying special attention to housing for tourism workers. This group is expected to benefit from housing solutions at the following developments:

  • Industry Cove in Hanover
  • Friendship and Meadows of Irwin in St. James
  • Windsor, Dry Valley and Granville in Trelawny
  • Minard in St. Ann and
  • Galina in St. Mary.

The Housing Microfinance Initiative for Low Income Persons

Under this initiative, the NHT has intensified its effort to reach low income contributors, for whom home ownership has been elusive. The programme is scheduled to begin on April 1, 2017 and it is specifically targeted at the vulnerable segment of the population. The Housing Microfinance Initiative will provide credit to meet the demand of low-income households. It will allow people to repair or improve their existing homes or build their own homes, one step at a time. The NHT will provide funds to other institutions for on-lending to current and new contributors to meet specific needs such as:

  • titling
  • infrastructure (upgrade or new)
  • utilities installation
  • construction preliminaries (e.g. valuation report, surveyor’s ID report, quantity surveyors report, housing design, approved building plan)
  • completion (of different stages – whether of a building or section of a building; or to install fixtures, fittings and finishes)
  • new construction (incremental)

A maximum $850,000 will be provided to each borrower with loan tenure of between 6 months and 5 years. While this facility is intended for contributors, non-contributors may also apply. However, they must become contributors before disbursement. The programme will also see the offer of loans at interest rates which are lower than those of other microfinance institutions.

Special Scheme Upgrading Initiative

The Trust is to spend $4 billion to upgrade a number of older Schemes, i.e., those built in the first 10 years of the NHT’s operations, and in which there now exists serious maintenance needs in shared infrastructure and common facilities. Many of these older NHT schemes were not designed with proper provisions for garbage disposal, common play areas and amenities which are now standard for new schemes.

The PM has therefore mandated the Trust to assess the needs of the selected Schemes and to see to their upgrading. This initiative is being done within the context of the NHT’s 40th anniversary and as a project marking Jamaica 55. The project will be done over a two-year period and will cover applicable Schemes islandwide. Fifty (50) Schemes are slated to be upgraded in the first year, and another 50 in year two.

Urban Regeneration Programme

The Government of Jamaica (GoJ) through the NHT, in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation (Ministry of Housing) and with support from agencies such as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and National Water Commission (NWC) will undertake a programme for the re-development of targeted areas of Kingston & St. Andrew to be called, the Urban Regeneration Programme.

The main objective is to “bring back” desirability for living in areas previously considered high to middle income housing areas. The areas to be re-developed are in close proximity to where people work, attend school, play, shop and socialize. The programme will utilize higher density housing and mixed use designs. This approach will reduce the cost of construction whilst 4 providing housing solutions of the highest planning, developmental, environmental, energy utilization and safety standards.

The areas identified for the pilot projects are Kingston Gardens, Eastwood Park Gardens and Vineyard Town. Activities will begin in Kingston Gardens, within the area identified for the planning of Government Circle, which is being led by the Urban Development Corporation.

Contributions Arrears Programme (CAP)

The Prime Minister also spoke of the CAP. He noted that CAP is intended to allow persons to normalize their contribution status with the Trust. This will address contributions which have been outstanding up to December 2016. The usual penalties and interests will be waived. Contributors will also have up to 5 years to regularise their contribution arrears. This offer will expire at the end of December 2017.