CASHFI Conference Focus: Housing as a Means of Economic Development

Secretary General of the Caribbean Association of Housing Finance Institutions (CASHFI) Joseph Bailey is projecting that the staging of a Regional Housing Conference,  will assist regional governments to shape policy that will result in using the provision of housing as a means for economic development.

The two-day conference will be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, from October 6-7, 2014, under the theme Transforming Regional Communities through Housing and Economic Development.”  It is anticipated that representatives from Association’s 12-member countries in the region and other territories will attend the event.

Key partners in the hosting of the historic assembly will include the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), the National Housing Trust (NHT), the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Minister of Transport Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies will deliver the keynote address. And, the conference will include presentations on: Latin American & Caribbean Housing Assessment; Housing affordability and contributory factors;  Private/Public Partnership in Housing, Climate Change – Implications for Sustainable Development; The Course of the Jamaican Economy; Revitalisation of Cities – the Canadian Experience; and Law & Order, Security and Stability in Communities.

Putting the conference in perspective, Mr. Bailey said, “In many jurisdictions governments are taking a new look at the role housing can play in growing their Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and, at this regional housing forum, we want to send a message to the leadership of our member countries that: Housing should be given a full place in economic development with renewed investment in the sector.

He maintained that housing has the potential to transform cities; and expansion of the sector should be taken seriously, as the records show that housing was the main contributor to the revitalisation generation of many cities, worldwide. A new thought in some major cities is the development of Housing Covenant which seeks to reward effort through improved housing offer.  Greater priority is placed on developing intermediate housing; that is housing for those who cannot afford to access the private market, to rent and buy but who do not qualify for social housing.

“When the housing sector thrives, cities improve because construction generates employment. When this happens, residents will seek to refurbish their homes; buildings in communities will be renovated; and this improves the overall ambience of the city,” Mr. Bailey affirmed.

He added that one of the objectives of the conference is to contribute to shaping Caribbean policy that will result in housing playing a vital role in economic development; and assist the region to meet the housing needs of its population which is growing faster than current new housing stock.

“It is our hope that the concept for a housing policy will emerge from this conference, to set the framework for a paradigm shift. This policy should make housing affordable and allow housing development to impact economic development. Consequently, we will advocate for the appropriate use of resources to reduce the housing deficit in the region,” he said.

General Manager of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) and CASHFI Chairman Earl Jarrett concurred with Mr. Bailey.

“As a building society, we at Jamaica National recognise that housing is at a critical juncture in the Caribbean; and, it is our hope that the conference will provide right solutions to demonstrate to policymakers that housing can benefit regional economies. We will also use the opportunity to identify right solutions to address the housing deficit,” he said.

The findings of the CASHFI conference will be published in the IDB Findings: New Study on Latin America & Caribbean; Housing Opportunities for the Majority publication, early next year.