The Public Relations Officer of the Tafari Charlemagne Community Housing Association, Doctor Marcus Day, has expressed concern about the availability of low cost housing.
He spoke against the backdrop of efforts by the National Housing Corporation (NHC), to evict persons who continue to occupy the La Clery CDC units which were built to accommodate persons displaced during the 1948 Castries fire.
Day recalled that there was an international tourism meeting some time ago where a man in attendance stood up and declared that you cannot have five star resorts in a three star country.
“Three star resorts have bathrooms in every room. I contend that 40 percent of our population is still using pit latrines – so we are not even a three star location,” he remarked.
“We are a two star location. So how do you have posh five star hotels with people living in one or two star housing and you don’t expect them to engage in crime? You can’t have the disparity of wealth that you have in this country and not expect people to be angry and to take it back,” Day stated.
“Twenty-nine percent of our population, according to statistics, are below the poverty line. How do those people afford rent? How do those people afford mortgages? Those people will never be in a position to pay $3000 a month for a mortgage. How do we get them to share in our national well-being?” he said.
Day said the issue of the La Clery CDC units is an indication of how these problems can run for generations.
The National Housing Corporation (NHC) has started demolishing the CDC units, and has moved to court to evict residents who have been occupying others.
“Generational poverty. Generational insecure housing,” he explained.
“The Housing Authority has sued two of the residents of the CDC because they say that their presence in the buildings that were vacated stopped them from destroying the property – from bulldozing the property, and that the amount of the suit is what it would take to remobilize the contractor to come there and tear down the building,” Day stated.
He said the NHC sent a file of all the corporation’s documentation.
“The problem is that there was a letter from 2014 from the Housing Authority that puts a stay on the evictions and a stay on the destruction until a suitable arrangement is made with the people.”
Day explained that this has not been done.
“All that has been done is that they came up with a cabinet conclusion in March to demolish and because our law is such that you can’t evict people, they’ve been trying to coerce people out of the buildings so that they can demolish.”