The National Housing Trust Act

1. This piece of legislation was enacted on New Year’s Day, 1979. It establishes a body called the National Housing Trust. You can click here to view/read the NHT Act in detail.

2. The sole functions of the Trust are stated as follows:

  • (a) to add to and improve the existing supply of housing; and
  • (b) to enhance the usefulness of the funds of the Trust by promoting greater efficiency in the housing sector.

3. In executing its functions, the Trust is required to make loans to contributors to assist in purchasing, maintaining, repairing or improving houses.

4. In 2005, Parliament amended this Act so as to enable the Trust to provide financing up to a maximum of five billion dollars for projects for the development of education. It is to be noted that this provision has nothing to do with the housing sector. So, strictly speaking, it was outside the scope of the law. Parliament seems to have recognized this fact as it provided that this amendment was to be effective only until August 25, 2006. So, after this date, the law reverted to the position it was in prior to the passing of the amendment in 2005.

5. This is a neat way of taking money from a fund that was legally established to do one thing, and to use it lawfully for another purpose. Parliament is really supreme.

There was much furor about this in the local press in 2005. Here are some links to related articles and letters on the matter:
– May 10, 2005 – Letter to the Gleaner Editor – NHT move is wrong
– July 23, 2005 – Letter to the Gleaner Editor – Lend the money for education
– July 27, 2005 – Article – House passes amended NHT Act
– July 30, 2005 – Article – Betrayal of trust, says JLP – as Senate passes amended NHT Act