With no where else to turn, three women and their eight children sought refuge at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) head office in Port of Spain, yesterday but said they were all turned out into the pouring rain by staff at the HDC.
The three, young, mothers who met at the Ministry of the People, Social Welfare office in South on Wednesday came to the HDC office together yesterday after realising that they were all facing the same plight, believing that there is strength in numbers but they say they were left disappointed and out in the cold rain in front the HDC building.
Silika Jacob, a 24-year-old mother of two, who has another baby due next month, told the Express she got to the HDC building at 1 a.m. because she is fed up of living in the abandoned house in south Trinidad where she has been for the past six months.
She said she was thrown out of the house she lived in after her children’s father was sent to prison recently.
“My child father went to prison and his family put me out of the home. I have no relatives of my own that I know about because when I was three months my mom left me by a relative and I stayed there until I met my children’s father at 17 and I moved out,” Jacob said.
“So I went to social welfare, they wrote several letters, of which I have copies, to (HDC chairman) Jearlean John and she has not been responding.
“I went again to the Ministry of the People on Wednesday and they gave me another letter this time an emergency letter requesting accommodation. This morning when I saw her (John) I gave her the letter and she read it and said ‘I can’t do anything about this’ and she not promising us anything. She treat us like nothing like real dogs and it hurt me to see that as a mother she moved that way,” Jacob said.
She added that she and the two other women and their children were sheltering from the rain in the building but were told to leave by an HDC manager because the building was not for “homeless people” but for customers.
“They gave us two garbage bags what we sitting down on here and tell us to go back outside and a customer gave us an umbrella,” Jacob said.
Tamika Johnson a 27-year-old mother of three of Pleasantville told the Express she too needs a place to call home because the place she was staying in she would eventually have to leave.
“I went to Social Welfare to see if I could get some financial assistance but I haven’t got it yet but I came out here in solidarity with them, the two other mothers, because their situation worse than mine but also wanting somewhere for us, my children and I, to stay as well. All we need is to have somewhere for the children to stay,” she added.
Candice Patterson, the third mother who also has two children, said her children’s father died three years ago and just like Jacob she was thrown out of the house after her husband’s death. “I don’t work anywhere right now because of the situation. I have two little girls and all we need is the help,” she said.
In response to the issue John told the Express she did meet with the women but truly could not make any promises to them.
“They came at 6.30 a.m. I saw them I heard they were in the customer service area I went down to them and I said I am taking your letters but I can’t promise you anything I am going to send an officer down to see you to take all of your other details. I did that within 10 minutes. Subsequent to that our HDC Social Department will kick in and we will go and see where they live. On top of that one of them is not working and we have no free apartments, so these are things we have to take into consideration. So we are looking into it,” John said.