The government has announced a raft of increased benefits for several categories of contributors to the National Housing Trust (NHT).
Making his contribution to the 2017/18 budget debate in Parliament yesterday (March 21) Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the move is in an effort to increase home ownership across all income levels in Jamaica.
Effective July 1, 2017, home improvement and house lot loans will be increased.
NHT contributors seeking home improvement loans can now access up to $2.5 million up from $1.5 million.
In addition, loans to purchase land (House Lot loans) will be increased to $2.5 million from the previous limit of $2 million.
The Government will also increase NHT benefits to persons with disabilities. The Government will provide a grant to NHT mortgagors with disabilities or those 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 their needs.
The Prime Minister also announced the implementation of a Low Income Construction Subsidy, Housing Microfinance and Mortgage Financing – all of which will increase the uptake of housing loans for low income earners particularly those persons in the tourism sector.
“We are paying special attention to housing for our tourism workers with, the NHT projects slated for Industry Cove in Hanover, Friendship and Meadows of Irwin in St. James, Windsor, Dry Valley and Granville in Trelawny, Mansard in St. Ann and Galina in St. Mary”, stated Prime Minister Holness.
The Housing Microfinance project which begins on April 1, 2017, will target low income contributors. It will allow contributors to repair or improve their existing homes or build their own homes, one step at a time with a maximum of 850-thousand dollars with loan tenure of 6 months to 5 years.
In addition, the prime minister announced that self-employed individuals and some private entities that have challenges in keeping up with their mortgage payments will benefit from the Contribution Arrears Programme launched earlier this year (January 2017).
“This will address the contributions which have been outstanding up to December 2016; the usual benefits will be waived”, declared Prime Minister Holness.
Legislative changes have also been made to ensure greater take up of housing loans for persons earning minimum wage to $12,000 weekly.
These initiatives with effect in July 2017 will make it possible for any individual contributing for seven years or more, who meets the NHT eligibility requirements, to access funding to purchase, at minimum, a studio unit and a Special Incentive of 100% financing for all the housing solutions the NHT produces on the conditionality that individuals are able to afford it.
With the NHT pursuing further public private partnerships, the prime minister anticipates that housing solutions by the year 2020 will exceed 15,000.