Crawford advocates 'rent-to-buy' system to slow squatting

Observer staff reporter

Friday, October 12, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Opposition Senator Damion Crawford says minimum wage workers, who are paid $7,000 weekly, are left with little option but to build their dwellings on informal settlements because of their meagre earnings.

“We wonder why people are squatting, but look at minimum wage... minimum wage cannot pay mortgage and it cannot pay rent. The only other alternative that is left is to squat [as] there is no other way to own a home.

“Now, how can you be an illegal resident in the only place that they can't deport you?

However, while he bemoaned the difficulties faced by people living in informal settlements, he recommended that one of the ways to to curb squatting is the implementation of a “rent-to-buy system” in which a portion of the rent could go towards a mortgage down payment for a house.

“If you look at it you can change it, quite simply. The National Housing Trust (NHT) could always build some houses and [charge] $50,000 for the rent. But in this $50,000; $30,000 is put towards the savings (towards a mortgage deposit) and $20,000 for upkeep. In five years with the savings you see a deposit for a mortgage now. But if you pay this rent you will never save this down payment,” he explaineds.

He also suggested generational mortgages as another mean by which people can own houses.

“…So, my father starts the mortgage and me, the son, finishes it. It [would then be] a 60-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage. But if you don't have the mindset that by 30 you should own a home, then you will never start to think about these things,” he suggested.

Crawford was delivering the main address at the Kiwanis Club of Montego Freeport 33rd Award and Installation ceremony at the Grandiosa Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, on Sunday.

Clifton Morris was installed as the new president.

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