Evicted HDC families to receive counselling
Social Development Minister Cherrie Ann Crichlow-Cockburn said in Parliament on Wednesday that the families, who were squatting illegally in buildings which were declared structurally unsound, are in the process of receiving counselling and other forms of assistance.
“The Ministry has been in contact with one of the displaced residents who advised that he represents the 25 evicted families. He requested that counselling be provided to the families this afternoon and indicated that he would get back to the Ministry regarding other forms of assistance.”
She said arrangements were made for officers of the National Family Services Division to visit the families on Wednesday afternoon.
Housing Minister Randal Mitchell explained that the families are not in fact residents and were illegally inhabiting the buildings, after the families, including elderly members and children, were evicted on Monday and Tuesday.
“They were in fact illegal occupiers, and any illegal occupier is liable for eviction.”
He said a number of buildings were declared structurally unsound and therefore unfit for occupation.
“The lawful occupants at the time were relocated between 2012-2014. The site was boarded up, locks were placed on doors and danger signs put on the building as well as signs of no trespassing.”
“Following reports in 2016, a number of squatters were found to be resident in these units and in August 2016, nine evictions were conducted.”
“A number of further reports were received in late 2016 where reports were that illegal activities were taking place, illegal squatting, illegal electrical connections and the security personnel and social workers visited the site and told them to come to the HDC to prove their right to occupation.”
“This was not done and on Monday and Tuesday the HDC security personnel as well as the police conducted eviction exercises.”
Dr Moonilal then asked when buildings four and five would be demolished as per a 2013 structural report.
Mitchell said engineers have now been engaged to try to save the structures in order to provide housing for ‘those in need’.
25 families, including over 50 young children and babies, were evicted by the HDC after illegally occupying the buildings for several years.
The families moved into the buildings and reportedly did their own structural and electrical repairs, without approval from the HDC.
The buildings, HDC said, were deemed to be structurally unsafe and the illegal occupants have put themselves at risk by ignoring caution and danger signs.
However, Dr Moonilal says the families now have nowhere to go.