RESIDENTS illegally occupying the CDC apartments in La Clery have formed themselves into an association to improve the housing, environment, facilities and the general spirit of the community – and to press the government for appropriate relocation.
The association is called the Tafari Charlemagne Community Housing Association and was formed over the weekend and named after TafariCharlamagne, a footballer of national repute who died two weeks ago in a suspected electrocution (See Page 10).
The tragedy, which took place at the start of this month, threw the focus on that particular part of the La Clery housing stock residents of which have, for some time now, been resisting government’s attempts to dislodge them from their homes.
A February 19, 2018 letter from the Ministry of Housing to persons who reoccupied apartments vacated by previous occupants showed ample evidence of government’s desire to get residents out of there.
Government offered households $10, 000 to relocate — a gesture some accepted while others rejected.
However, those who accepted the money and left saw the apartments their left empty being reoccupied by other persons.
These new ‘residents’ were the ones who received the letter to vacate the place by May 1.
Charlemagne, said to be in his late 20’s, was born and raised in that area and was one of those who occupied an apartment vacated by a family who accepted government’s offer.
He comes from a family who has been living in the CDC housing area for decades.
Last Saturday, a group of about 20 residents met to take on the challenge of regenerating their community.
They expressed the view that the time had come to pursue a social justice agenda for improved access to housing, healthcare and community development, in a collaborative and empowering manner — and so, the Tafari Charlemagne Community Housing Association was born.
The association aims to represent and support the interests of the residents of the area and to help solve any problems which may affect the quality of life of residents in the community.
The association also planns to put forward the collective view of the area following active consultation with residents.
It also plans to work proactively with housing and community development stakeholders, their partners and other agencies/organizations to improve the quality of life for all residents of North East Castries.
Group members say they plan to run the Association in a fair and transparent manner, including the financial matters of the Association.
They plan to seek funding to meet their aims and meet the funding body’s requirements with regard to applications and be open and welcoming to all who live in the area regardless of their nationality, race colour, sexuality, gender, disability, age, religion, political opinion, tenure, marital status, parental status, health, criminal record or any other reason which may arise.
But most importantly, the group members say they will participate in discussions, events and consultations with the Ministry of Housing and urban renewal teams, particularly the National Housing Corporation, in order to promote the involvement and participation of all residents, particularly low income residents, in improving the community and the housing stock.
They plan too, to work positively with other agencies — for example municipal councils, local community organizations, the police force and more.
The association’s members say it is independent and non-political and is being run by a committee comprising of a Chairperson, a Treasurer and a Secretary.