Even as police celebrate positive behavioural changes in the Belle Air Phase 2 community that is now Jamaica’s first designated ‘Safe Community’ residents are being reminded to pay for lots made available to them ten years ago when they were moved from a squatter settlement.
Dozens of households were evicted from Rocky Woods, beach front lands on which they had squatted at Salem, Runaway Bay and moved to the present location next door to another settlement Belle Air (Phase one) that was already well developed as a working class community.
Lots were made available to the new settlers by the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) at a cost of $600,000 each, on average, and people were allowed to settle without paying up front. Although years have passed with several appeals by the HAJ for the residents to pay and secure their titles, only 81 people or one fifth of more than 400 potential lot owners have paid.
At a ceremony Tuesday, June 5 to designate the settlement as Jamaica’s first Safe Community, Public Relations and Marketing Manager of the HAJ, Richard Jones made another public appeal for people to pay up.
He said in spite of an appeal six months ago at a community function, most people had still not paid for lots that were now valued at millions of dollars. Independent assessment of residential lots in the area put values at three to four million dollars (J$3-4 million) per lot. There are large structures on some of the lots which Mr Jones pointed out were assets that people needed to secure with getting their titles.
Jones said: “We at the HAJ want to work with you. Come I, sit with us and work with us,” in paying amounts outstanding. He told Jamaica Today after the meeting that the HAJ was being reasonable in insisting now that people should make their full payment within a year from now.