The National Housing Trust, NHT, has made improvements to the Housing Microfinance Loan Programme which allows contributors to access financing from approved credit unions towards a wide range of housing related expenses.
The changes which took effect Monday September 25, 2023 include an increase to the facility's maximum loan limit and qualifying wage ceilings.
The changes were announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his keynote address on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at a handing over ceremony for 35-one bedroom units and 42-Serviced Lots for Phase 1 of the NHT's Windsor Hills development in Spicy Hilly, Trelawny.
He noted that the move was intended to improve affordability for contributors and bring the maximum benefit in closer alignment with prevailing market conditions.
"The NHT has increased the qualifying wage ceiling by 103% to $86,000 weekly or less up from 42,000 weekly or less which means more persons will be able to qualify…The NHT has also increased the maximum loan limit under the programme by 30%, increasing it to $1.95 million up from $1.5 million, which means an additional $450,000 on what you are able to burrow," Mr. Holness said.
The Prime Minster also announced that the initial maximum disbursement of $850,000 was increased to $1.1 million, where the remainder of the funds would be disbursed at a later date.
Funds accessed under the Programme can be used for among other things: deposit, incremental housing construction to include installation of solar facilities and utilities, titling, home improvement and repairs, construction preliminaries, for example, valuation report, surveyor's ID report and land purchase.
The financing can be used in combination with NHT housing benefits, which means that beneficiaries of the programme can receive up to $9.45 million in total funding towards homeownership – $7.5 million NHT benefit and $1.95 million from the Programme. Borrowers still have the opportunity to access their NHT housing benefits directly from NHT or through the recently launched External Financing Mortgage Programme even when they access funding through the Micro Financing Programme.
The loans which are open to both existing and new NHT contributors are offered with a tenure of up to five years and interest rates of six per cent for secured loans and nine percent for unsecured loans.
A total of 12 credit unions have signed on to the NHT's Housing Micro Finance Programme. These credit unions have a combined membership of approximately 450,000, and a potential of 140,500 members who could qualify for loans through the programme that is funded by the NHT.
The approved list of credit unions are: C &WJ Co-operative Credit Union, EduCom, Jamaica Police Co-operative Credit Union, Public Sector Employees Co-operative Credit Union, Lascelles Employee & Partners Co-operative Credit Union, Essential &Emergency Services Co-operative Credit Union, Jamaica Defence Force Co-operative Credit Union, First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union, Trelawny Co-operative Credit Union, Manchester Co-operative Credit Union, Gateway Co-operative Credit Union and PWD Co-operative Credit Union.