Kingston 11 residents dream of new homes
As he stood with dozens of other residents on Howard Avenue in Kingston 11, garbage collector Germaine McFarlane hoped that when finished he will receive one of the 248 studio dwellings of the Howard Apartments development.
The 40-year-old father of two got teary-eyed when he spoke about the board home he currently lives in.
"Mi feel like if mi nuh get one a dem house here mi ago bawl, God know. Mi wouldn't mind dem make up dem and tell mi say mi can get one a dem. Right now a somebody yard mi live and the people dem can want dem place anytime. Is about three years mi live there but mi don't know when dem a go tell mi say a time to go," he said.
Ground was broken for the development yesterday, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness shared that the infrastructure will include storm drainage water systems, security guard house, jogging trail, roof garden, exercise area and green area. The development is slated to be completed in 2024.
McFarlane said one of the units, which is valued under $12 million, would be suitable for him as he looks forward to sharing a home with his two children, who do not live with him.
"A Portmore dem live and mi well want dem live with me because dem have to come over here fi dem lunch money. It's really difficult, enuh, man, mi just want mi own place and a dats why mi left work [at the National Solid Waste Management Authority] fi come see what a gwan. Mi pray to father God this morning before mi leave mi house. Mi nuh comfortable man, mi have mi own house but is a little board house," McFarlane said.
Cleo Brevette, who was pushing a shopping cart containing snacks and juice around the community, said she will be busy ensuring she stands a chance of qualifying for one of the units.
"Everybody out here a look see if dem can qualify fi one a dem house here. Right now mi a build a little bar and ting so in the meantime mi a gwan sell and throw the NHT [National Housing Trust] contributions because mi really want one of these apartments. Mi nah pay rent now and mi live in a little house but mi would want a better one," she said.
The construction will be done by Centauri Real Estate Company under the NHT's Guaranteed Purchase Programme (GPP). The residents said they welcome the development as it will shed a positive light on the space that is often stigmatised.
"Mi want people like we in the community get some, mi would want some police and licensed firearm holders fi get some too, because a bare robberies gwan up here suh weh dem a build. Howard Avenue is a nice place but robberies gwan, mi get rob already. This will bring new light to the area and when people see say development a gwan, it may change them mind and make them start think positive," a resident said.
During his keynote address, Holness stated that currently there are more than 2,800 units which are at various states of construction.
"A couple weeks ago I turned over some units in St Catherine and I will be through turning over units under the GPP as they are ready. The NHT has applied for 1,500 in Kingston and St Andrew and I have handed over some already. There are 28 units on Metcalfe Street which will be handed over in 2024 and we have Maxfield Park and others," he said.