Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently handed over the keys to a brand-new house to St Elizabeth resident Winston Wint, who was living in squalor, but Jamaican Twitter users questioned the effectiveness of the goodwill gesture.
Holness, who shared a tweet on Thursday (July 23), said that Wint was the beneficiary of a one-bedroom home constructed at a cost of JMD 5.9 million under the New Social Housing Programme (NSHP).
Wint, an 88-year-old senior citizen with disabilities, hails from Bogue District, Braes River in the parish.
“The unit has a living area, kitchen, and bathroom. It is connected to a septic tank and has a connection for potable water and electricity,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted.
While many applauded Holness for his continued efforts to provide housing solutions for many citizens, Twitter users, incensed by the size and the cost of the dwelling, queried the feasibility of an island-wide project similar to what was made possible for the elderly Wint.
“Happy for Mr Wint, who has won a “lottery”. But this is not the way do social welfare. The govt cannot build a $6m house for even 1% of the destitute in the country. So this is just feel-good inactivism. We need instead a universal, meaningful social safety net & public services,” tweeted Damien King, Executive Director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI).
King’s sentiment was echoed by several users of the social media platform, who questioned whether the land’s estimated value was included in the overall cost of the house’s construction.
A few outright refused to accept the cost declared for the one-bedroom home.
For many, the handover further underscored the need for an overhaul of the domestic market as many citizens find the current loan limits at the state-owned National Housing Trust (NHT), which stand at $6.5 million for single applicants, inadequate and out of touch.
“After reading the figures I believe the @TheNHT should be reviewed on their loan threshold. $6.5m is clearly not enough to build a comfortable home. I think consideration should be put forward for the NHT to grant a figure that the person’s earnings can afford to repay,” @AlexMJordonJr replied to Holness’ tweet.
Others were not so critical, expressing their well-wishes to Wint for a home finally worth calling his own, even after 88 years.
The handover ceremony, done this past weekend, after Wint was selected on the recommendation of North East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament, Evon Redman.