Inner City Housing Project Model Unit
On a recent TVJ current affairs programme, residents of the Denham Town Inner City Housing Project (ICHP) voiced concerns about the physical infrastructure in their scheme as well as about their relationship with the NHT. The NHT is in constant dialogue with scheme members to address their concerns. In the meanwhile, the Trust uses this medium to update the wider public on the status of the Denham Town project.
All structural problems are covered under a Defects Liability Clause. This clause sets a time in which the contractors are bound to address any complaints relating to construction of the buildings. All defects evident before the units were handed over were recorded and submitted to the contractor for correction. The Defects Liability period for Denham Town expired July 27, 2006, one year after owners took possession of their units. The NHT however extended this time and addressed defects up to April 2007.
Leaking/cracks in roof
Roofs on the Denham Town buildings have a ten-year warranty. Therefore, any leaks that are now occurring will be repaired under this warranty.
Concern: Tiles in some units are lifting.
The NHT received a list of those units in which tiles had a hollow sound and could be construed as “lifting”. Upon removal, it was found that the tiles were properly bonded to the floor and were not lifting. All reports however, will be investigated and if there are defects, they will be addressed.
Concern: There is constant overflow of sewage on Little King Street.
The sewage problem existed before the start of the Inner-City development. The National Water Commission (NWC) has the responsibility to maintain the existing sewers, which are the ones of concern. The NHT has been assisting the residents with this particular problem through dialogue with the NWC.
Concern: Some streetlights don’t work. Residents are being asked to pay for street lighting.
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo.) is responsible for maintaining the streetlights, while the common area (yard) lighting, is the responsibility of the Denham Town Strata Company. The common area lighting was in good working order on hand-over to the community. Although the community is responsible for maintaining the lighting in the common area, the NHT has been paying these bills to date.
Concern: Low water pressure.
The NWC indicated at the start of the project that the water pressure would be insufficient to supply the 3rd floor apartments. As a result, all NHT designs include a tank and pumping system to assist in getting water to the residents. The current problem appears to be with the pump. The NHT met with the NWC on September 20, 2007 to facilitate the handing over of the system, but will ensure that the problem is corrected.
Concern: The NHT has not supported the community’s bid to build a fence around the scheme
Fencing was never included in the design for the Little King Street apartments. All the roads through the community are public roads and cannot be closed. Additionally, beneficiaries of the units lived on Little King Street and were a part of the general community before the apartments were built. The NHT, therefore, did not consider it necessary to separate them from the rest of the community once the project was complete.
Grilling of Units
Concern: Only the ground floor units are grilled.
Due to the security challenges, ICHP decided that grillwork would be installed to all ground floor windows. Since upper floors were not easily accessible, only the French windows were grilled for the safety of children.
Residents must pay maintenance fees to prevent the decay that has befallen many apartment-type buildings in inner-city communities. The NHT charges a monthly fee of $500 per household. However, the actual cost of maintenance is much higher so the NHT heavily subsidizes these maintenance fees. Despite this subsidy, payment of fees is low.
The NHT is aware that residents would like to manage the maintenance fund on their own. Executives of the three inner-city schemes were informed to open bank accounts so that the NHT could deposit payments for disbursement effective September 2007. To date, over $300,000 has been deposited to the Denham Town account from which the executive has made purchases.
Status of strata titles
Strata titles for Denham Town are not yet available.
The Denham Town development consists of 88 parcels of land. The Ministry of Housing owns 37 of these parcels and private individuals own the others. The Ministry of Housing has so far sent 32 titles to the Trust. The NHT is now in the process of acquiring the titles for the outstanding parcels. Once the NHT has titles for all the lands, the Trust will submit them to the titles office and apply for one parent title. When this parent title is received, strata titles will then be issued.
Concern: The NHT has reduced its service to the community
Before an ICHP development is completed, social workers from the NHT work closely with the residents to prepare them for occupancy. This includes skills training, job assessment and placement and social interventions. Such interventions are not meant to continue indefinitely. The intention is to have the residents gradually become independent and self-sufficient. Any decrease in the level of attention that residents have noted is, therefore, a part of a gradual weaning process. The NHT however, remains true to its commitment to work with its inner-city communities for five years until they are able to manage their own affairs.
For further information about the National Housing Trust’s Inner-City Housing Project (ICHP), visit our website at: www.nht.gov.jm