The Housing and Integrated Development LAV (Housing Laboratory) in Jamaica was held on the 16th of June, 2021. It emerged from the necessity to bring together new knowledge on housing and informality by the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change of Jamaica and the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ), with the support of the Cities Alliance Informality Programme. It focussed on experiences on housing and informal settlements that address multidimensional poverty in a comprehensive manner.
The LAV assessed how best to move forward inclusively. To understand and broaden the discussion around the central theme of Housing and Integrated Development within the Jamaican context. It sought to move the discussion from a project-based approach to a sustainable programme for integrated development that includes the direct and indirect consequences of informal settlements –violence, lack of health and education, gender and income inequality and the effects of climate change.
The Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change of Jamaica, Pearnel Charles Jr, actively led the discussion throughout the LAV. Members of the Cities Alliance from the Commonwealth Forum of Local Governments (CLGF), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Habitat for Humanity and USAID, amongst other national and international actors, also contributed towards the construction of viable alternatives on addressing informal settlements in Jamaica. The LAV's discussion was structured under four key topics:
- The components of Housing and Integrated Development.
- Strategically addressing housing needs based upon the actual beneficiary needs.
- The legal framework of Housing and Integrated Development and the social role of land and the city.
- The importance of Jamaican academia in producing research on Housing and Integrated Development.
A network of technical specialists and Ministers from various countries in the region presented experiences in their integrated attempts at addressing housing and informal settlements. Brazil and Colombia shared their experiences on the development and implementation of programmes focussing on strong social components. These experiences can inspire a pathway to alternative methodologies, and promote a change in the approach to housing in Jamaica.
As a result of the successful knowledge exchange through the LAV between key stakeholders, the experience has fostered a Community of Practice on Housing and Informal Settlements in Jamaica. A milestone for the development of structured governance mechanisms, the Community allows a participatory and knowledge enriching space, with an intent for a call to action.