Friday, February 23, 2018

Fire victims unhappy with new HDC units

 Several residents of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment buildings on Nelson Street, Port of Spain, who were affected by Thursday afternoon’s fire are calling for better accommodations than what they currently have. 

The fire gutted one of the apartment blocks, burning two apartments and resulting in severe damage to at least four more.

That same afternoon, HDC corporate communications manager Maurisa Findlay told the Express the residents had been placed in housing units throughout Port of Spain. 

However, several of the residents came to Express House in Port of Spain yesterday afternoon to report that the areas they had been placed in were allegedly unsafe and the state of the housing units that some had received was uninhabitable. 

Wayne Barrow, who spoke on behalf of the group of eight men and women, explained that they had come to make their plight publicly known, not because they “wanted hand-outs” but because they wanted better for themselves, and they wanted to work with the corporation to achieve this.

“Several of us have lost everything in that fire, and about four of us got severe water damage. I am on the bottom floor, so it wasn’t so bad for me personally. But as a group, unfortunately, we lost a lot of things. Now while we are grateful they moved us into units, it is the issues surrounding the quality and the calibre of some of those units and where they are placed, which we are demanding to be addressed. 

“They (HDC officials) came after the fire and asked us for names and other information and then bam, bam, bam, they check something and tell us this is where we going for the night. And when we reached, some of the places they put us in are in areas where, if we stay as people who were from Nelson Street, we will end up simply as a murder statistic in the news. And then the condition of some of these apartments is just intolerable. We are not asking for any hand-outs...what we want is for them to give us an assessment or something like that, and work with us, so we can be moved into better accommodations.

“Ask us if we can pay more rent or whatever the case may be, don’t just throw us in areas that are almost as bad for us as having no home at all,” Barrow said.

Attempts to reach Findlay late yesterday proved unsuccessful.