Press Release:– Resident in one of the most deprived communities in Castries are exploring new paths to community empowerment.
The residents of Skatetown/Odlum City and Upper Sunbilt are considering forming a community housing association.
The initiative was agreed upon after discussions with a community organizer and a prospective Saint Lucia Labour Party candidate for the Castries North constituency, Mr. Samuel Bowers.
According to Mr. Bowers “We started out discussing how previous politicians have represented the constituency and built essential services like roads and footpaths. And how others have been kind and provided occasional financial help to residents for years, yet the fundamentals of deprivation in the community have remained from election to election.”
And the deprivation is clear to see.
Poor quality housing, with outdoor toilets and washing facilities, water shortages and signs of idleness are always visible, signs of the stagnation and powerlessness that have characterized the community.
As a result, many residents now express cynicism towards politicians.
It is common to hear residents say, that these politicians are all the same, “they come here at election time, and we don’t see them again after the elections.”
The goal of forming a housing association is to end the cycle of powerlessness.
Housing associations are privately owned community organizations that bring people together to address the challenge of persistent poverty in Caribbean society.
Once fully developed, they can provide access to affordable housing through part ownership arrangements or participation in programs to repair the homes of residents, through flexible financing arrangements.
One resident who prefers to remain unnamed at this stage, said “we need to stop these politicians who just buy our votes. It is good that Mr. Bowers is prepared to organize us to benefit from more progressive affordable housing policies of the Saint Lucia Labour Party”.
Housing policy in Saint Lucia for many years has suffered from market failure with low wage works being prize out of the high cost of providing housing.
The Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, Hon. Philip J. Pierre has promised new approaches to making housing more affordable, urban renewal and regeneration as a major policy shift of a new SLP administration.
Mr. Samuel Bowers was also instrumental in organizing the Tafari Charlemagne Community Housing Association with residents of the former La Clery CDC . And while current government policy does not embrace these associations, he believes that in time, these associations will help influence public policy for empowering residents and ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.
In the coming weeks, more meeting will be held with residents to agree on the governance of the association and its registration. All residents are invited to participate.