August 22, 2022
Even when the rain came in through the holes of her dilapidated one-bedroom house, Esmyn Bembridge didn’t complain. But she secretly wished for a better place to call home. Last Friday, she got her wish.
Bembridge was presented with keys to a one-bedoom, one-bathroom house painted a cheerful yellow, offset by decorative finishes. She was among two residents of St Ann North Eastern who Prime Minister Andrew Holness presented with keys as part of the Government’s New Social Housing Programme (NSHP).
“I feel… great about the new house. I never really complain while living in the old house, but it was rough,” Bembridge told the Jamaica Observer after being handed the keys.
Her nieces Ann-Marie Bembridge and Norda Thomas also expressed their gratitude, saying the family knew their aunt needed help but were simply unable to assist.
“I feel good about the house and I’m very glad that someone saw her need and decided to help her because we could not have done it for her. She was living in very bad conditions; it was broken down, need repair, and she has been living like that since I know her. She was even getting wet in the house and it was broken down bad,” said Ann-Marie.
“We want to say thank you to Mr Holness and team for all they have done for her. You have turned her life around and she is so grateful,” Thomas added.
For the other recipient, 55-year-old Hyacinth Williams, it was a surreal moment. After losing her house to a fire in 2018 she never imagined ever being able to hold the keys to her own house again.
“This day means a lot to me. I’ve never experienced something like this before, but to God be the glory, great things he has done. I was living in a rent house but now it is a good feeling. [I’m] excited that I have a brand new home,” said Williams.
The houses presented to the two women were among six Holness handed over in St Ann on Friday. According to the prime minister, the NSHP gains currency by helping and providing hope to needy individuals, like Bembridge and Williams.
Holness established the NSHP in 2018 as the housing component of the Housing Opportunity Production and Employment (HOPE) programme. It was developed to improve the housing condition of the country’s poor and disadvantaged population by providing quality, affordable, and sustainable housing.
The programme is being implemented through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC), with the HOPE unit providing administrative and technical support.
On Friday, Holness sought to assure those gathered that the NSHP is fulfilling its mandate.
“We are very confident that the people who are benefiting are all Jamaicans who are in need and that is very important because it gives legitimacy to the programme. When I come and I deliver a house like this I’m sure there are other people who feel, ‘I should have gotten the benefit.’ But if it was a case where the beneficiary didn’t need it, it would increase the unfairness and cripple the programme,” he said.
For a grateful Williams, her new house has strengthened her faith in God.
“I’m so excited about my new house. I pray and cry days upon days, but I always trusted that God would change my situation,” she said.
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