Too much grandstanding on housing without action

Letter to the Editor from John Refault.

Views over St Helier from Fort Regent, signalling station. Halkett Place, St Helier Methodist Centre,  old JCG school now College Gardens flats apartments, Convent Court flats                                                              Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30711486)
Views over St Helier from Fort Regent, signalling station. Halkett Place, St Helier Methodist Centre, old JCG school now College Gardens flats apartments, Convent Court flats Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30711486)

TODAY there continues to be a debate that there are too many people living in Jersey and that there are not enough homes to house them. But I ask: how many is too many people and why are there not enough homes to house them?

Alas, many of those against new homes live in comfortable accommodation, many of whom are under occupying those homes while young families are destined to a life of cramped, expensive, over-occupied homes, some barely fit for human habitation that they can barely afford.

In November 2019, a significant majority of the current States Members signed a pledge to ‘put children first’. A laudable objective indeed, but how has this States Members’ pledge been demonstrated and in what way have our children benefited from it?

Of course, we all know the impact that Covid-19 has had upon Jersey’s society, but consider for a moment how much worse has the impact of Covid-19 been for families living in inappropriate housing and paying unaffordable rents, and the impact that that has had on the physical and mental health of young families.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the government and parishes decided to assist rental dwellers with a freeze on rent increases, with the parishes also freezing rates increases on the Jersey public. But how much did that assist, albeit well intentioned, those who found themselves out of work because of lockdown and the reduction or even loss of income?

We celebrated those who supported all Islanders by keeping our essential stores open, our night workers filling up the shelves for the following day, the Hospital orderlies keeping our wards clean and our nurses on the frontline against Covid. All probably in the lowest quartile of wage earners trying to do their best for their families, yet still waiting for a decent home of their own or even a decent home with affordable rent.

Yet we have the nay-sayers still championing ‘no more building on our green fields’ without a thought of the impact of their cause if they are successful.

Unfortunately, some good intentions of providing affordable homes for our children and families have been thwarted by political intervention, envy and nimbyism.

People are not coming to Jersey because it is easy money on the dole. Instead, young Jersey families are leaving their homes and loved ones because they can no longer afford to live in inappropriate homes.

There has been far too much grandstanding by States Members shouting out that we need new homes for our families and too little actual delivery, other than that being delivered by Andium Homes.

I wait with bated breath to see how many of the new sites proposed in the interim Island Plan actually get delivered, as we have had consultant after consultant giving the same answers to the same issue and still no positive strategy for delivery.

Ca-M’Suffit, Rue de la Pointe, St Peter.

For more comment and opinion pieces, see today's JEP.

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