THE occupiers of Bachelors Quarters in La Clery say they are assembling a legal team to fight their cause in the civil courts in the case brought against them by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) – and they promise to also oppose the urgency with which the NHC has asked the courts to deal with the matter of getting them off the properties they have been occupying for decades.
The NHC last week Wednesday filed in the High Court of Justice (Civil) a Certificate of Urgency against those persons occupying apartments 20, 30 and 31 of Bachelors Quarters and against Mattaniah Charlemagne and others.
The NHC lawyers, namely Greene, Nelson and Associates, requested of the court that the hearing “be dealt with as a matter of urgency,” claiming that Charlemagne and others occupying the apartments are wrongfully occupying the NHC property and, as such, are prohibiting the demolition of structures which are dilapidated and can cause danger to them and the community in general, particularly in this Hurricane season. (See Story on Page 4)
But the occupants, including those named in the lawsuit, have since formed themselves in a housing association called the Tafari Charlemagne Community Housing Association, which will be facing the NHC in court — in their name.
Marcus Day, the association’s public relations officer, is questioning the NHC’s move in asking the court to deal with the matter urgently.
He told The VOICE: “Yes, we have assembled our legal team which is advising us and will be at the hearing. But we are contesting the urgency of the matter. It’s about two houses out of 15 still occupied. Why must it be urgent to destroy these two houses?”
Day is confident that the issue will be settled on the side of the Association, pointing out that the pile of documents provided by the NHC to the court to strengthen its request for eviction is lacking a vital letter written by the former Housing Minister Stanley Felix to the Member of Parliament for the area, Stephenson King.
“In that letter, it [was] stated that there would be a stay of demolition and a stay of eviction until a mutually-agreed way forward could be reached. That (letter) was not included and so that was a violation of the evidentiary rules and it’s the reason why these people are staying,” Day said.
Efforts to get King’s input in this ongoing saga have been fruitless to date. However, Day said those occupying the apartments in La Clery did not receive the notice to evacuate the property at the time they were supposed to, as mandated by law.
“There are so many discrepancies as it relates to the eviction. We, residents of the community, have not been consulted on what is going to happen to the area.
“There is no DCA approval for whatever project is planned for the area. There is no sign stating what will be constructed on the empty spot, nothing,” Day said.
He said the best option in the present scenario would be to provide those persons still occupying Bachelors Quarters with temporary homes hooked-up to the basic facilities like water, electricity, septic tanks and re-develop the area by constructing multi-family housing; and provide those in the temporary homes an opportunity to stay in the new development.
Day asserted that the present occupants of Bachelors Quarters have been living there for a very long time and are not newcomers to the area, as claimed by the NHC.
Last Tuesday some of the occupants, all dressed in white, staged a silent demonstration near City Hall in Castries to bring attention to their situation.