Hopeful Village moms gifted three-bedroom houses
When cookshop operator Thia Jones’ cousin died leaving a son behind nine years ago, she did not hesitate to take him in, although she was living in a one-bedroom structure with her mother and her own biological son in Hopeful Village, St Andrew.
The 34-year-old woman told The Gleaner that a few years ago, she went to the offices of her St Andrew Southern Member of Parliament Mark Golding, seeking assistance for housing.
She was placed on a list, and on Wednesday, Jones and two other needy mothers, Nicola Hall and Carla Downer, living metres from each other along Nethersole Drive in Hopeful Village, were presented with their new three-bedroom houses under the Government’s New Social Housing Programme.
“Although I waited a while, I must say, it has eventually come true, and I am extremely grateful for this new house,” said a beaming Jones as she stood outside her new unit, waiting for Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Golding, who is also the opposition leader, to officially hand her the keys.
“We no affi bungle up pon one bed again. All a we – mi and the boys – can have our own rooms now,” Jones said.
Her mother, Colleen Dunbar, told The Gleaner that she is elated that Jones has received her own home, and the single room in which the four previously all lived would now be hers alone.
Hall, a 33-year-old mother of three, also expressed her gratitude to Holness and Golding.
“My living condition before was not as beautiful as this house, which I am grateful for,” she said.
She, too, previously lived in a one-bedroom dilapidated board house with her three sons.
When the house was destroyed by fire in 2009, she went to live with relatives, but later got frustrated with those living conditions and sought assistance from Golding’s office.
Downer, who works as a domestic helper, said she sought assistance with a house over eight years ago.
“I was living a one room, me and my daughter. It was really bad, outside bathroom, and I’m not thankful for the inside bathroom. That is the main thing!” she said.
She explained that she would often get scared when she awoke at nights and wanted to use the bathroom.
“You know when you live in the ghetto, nothing nuh really gwaan and so forth. You no have no choice but to do what you have to do,” she said, noting that it has been difficult trying to move out of the inner-city community.
“You can’t go outside go pay rent because rent is dear and I tried it four times already, and I had to come back, so I’m glad for the house. I appreciate it 100 per cent,” Downer told The Gleaner.
Holness, in a message to the women, encouraged them to care for the units.
“We formalise the handover in a contract. We call it a social contract. It is really an outward expression and acknowledgement that the beneficiary has certain duties when it comes to this unit,” he said.
“It specifies the care the beneficiary has to ensure that the property is maintained. It specifies that the beneficiary must use the unit for the purpose for which it is given, so we don’t want you to take the unit and turn into a shop or a beauty salon and we even had cases, where people, having gotten the benefit, not from under this programme, from another programme, turned around and rent the property and certainly, we don’t want that,” Holness added.