HDC "squatters" evicted from abandoned buildings

0
1247
- Advertisement -

Trinidad – The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has moved to evict several families who ignored the “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs and illegally moved into apartments in a housing scheme in Harmony Hall, Gasparillo.
Some 25 families, including young children, have been ordered to remove their belongings from the apartments and vacate the buildings.
But the illegal occupants have refused to move and are now calling on Housing Minister Randall Mitchell to intervene.
Mother of six, Malika Lewis, said she moved into the abandoned building last December.
She said, “I had no place to live and I needed somewhere to go with my six children. I tried all avenues, I even went to HDC and pleaded for a house. I was told that my application was on file and had to wait because everyone else was waiting. But I needed a place right away. A friend told me about this building which was cleared because it was moving with the river. I came here and clean it out and move in with my children.”
Lewis, 35, said she now had no shelter for her children, ages 14 to three years.
HDC officials visited the area on Monday and instructed the illegal occupants to remove their belongings.
The HDC employees were accompanied by police officers from the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF).
The families had moved into the buildings with furniture and appliances which have since been placed on the pavement.
Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said the buildings were declared unfit for human habitation as they were deemed to be dangerous on account of structurally unsafe.
He said, “First, just to put into context, the securing of the assets of the HDC is an ongoing and every day function at the Corporation. There are apartment buildings in Harmony Hall that were declared unfit for human habitation as it they were deemed to be dangerous on account of structurally unsafe. The lawful residents who were in occupation of those buildings were deemed to be unsafe were relocated in and around 2012.”

Mother of six, Malika Lewis, goes through clothes baskets after she and her family were evicted by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) at Harmony Hall, Gasparillo on Tuesday. (Source: trinidadexpress.com)

 

Mother of six, Malika Lewis, goes through clothes baskets after she and her family were evicted by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) at Harmony Hall, Gasparillo on Tuesday. -Photo: TREVOR WATSON
Mitchell said subsequent to their relocation, the buildings were boarded up and hoarding put in place, along with signs warning of “No Trespassing” and “Danger” to prevent trespassers and squatters from going into illegal occupation.
He said since early 2016, the HDC has been in receipt of a number of reports of complaints of trespassers and squatters illegally occupying these apartment buildings, carrying on illegal activities there, making illegal electrical connections, some of whom do not appear to be citizens of this country. “This illegal occupation poses a danger to the illegal occupants themselves and to the lawful home owners, and tenants in the development,” he said.
Since the latter half of 2016, the security personnel, and in some cases the social workers at the Corporation have been investigating these complaints, Mitchell said.
“On investigation, the occupier would have been told that the records do not reveal that their occupation to be lawful and would be invited to the head office to prove lawful occupation and to regularize their status. The social workers at the Corporation would advise on alternatives and offerings at other agencies within the national social safety net,” he said.
Mitchell confirmed that security personnel at the HDC along with members of the police service yesterday proceeded to evict the remaining illegal occupiers and to begin the process of boarding up the buildings and removing the illegal connections.
“The removal of these occupiers was absolutely necessary to protect the occupiers themselves, the Corporation from incurring liability for personal injury, and to protect the lawful occupiers resident in the development,” he said.
He said the process of eviction lasts several weeks and even months.
Mitchell said as government continues to treat with the scourge of criminal behaviour, the HDC will continue to do its part to discourage those from breaking the law in a “compassionate but firm manner”.

- Advertisement -

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here