A government housing repair programme has come under fire from certain sections of the population. However, government is fighting back with at least two sitting ministers and a senator taking on critics of the programme.
The backlash came when photos of three small structures constructed by government appeared on social media.
Minister for Housing and Local Government Richard Frederick this week expressed his disgust and displeasure at some of the responses from the public.
“For a number of years you had the United Workers Party (UWP) in office. They never built one structure to house one homeless person. You have a situation where funds were repurposed… this government decided that we are moving in a direction of not necessarily building houses, because the programme is a housing repair programme, but there are some situations that are heart wrenching,” the Housing Minister told reporters.
“When you tell me a man sleeps under a boat open to the elements (and) another one sleeps in the boathouse and today is given a structure, you’re telling me that the naysayers see a difficulty with that? Where are our consciences? Where is our humanity?” Frederick said adding “it is so sad that on the altar of politics we are pretending no longer to be human beings concerned about the lesser mortals of this country.”
Member of Parliament for Dennery South Alfred Prospere also expressed his disappointment in an interview earlier this week. According to him, the housing project was sorely needed.
“It is really about helping three individuals who have been living on the fishing port (and) streets for years. They had nowhere to stay (and) were exposed to the elements. I saw it was necessary to build a small structure for them to be able to remove them from the elements but there is a lot of talk on Facebook (saying) that the houses are too small,” he said.
“Just imagine a person who (has) not been living under a structure for years getting a 16×12 complete structure, but yet you find talk all over the place (saying) that we are building small huts for people,” Prospere added.
He noted that individuals should consider the facts.
“I want to tell those persons who are spreading this message (to) just put themselves in the position of those guys who have not had a proper structure to live in for years. Getting a small house, how would they feel?” he said.
Government Senator Lisa Jawahir also commented on the situation via Facebook. Jawahir noted that government continues to live up to its mantra of putting people first saying “some of these families suffered severe damage to their homes due to hurricane Elsa.”
“You probably saw photos of small homes being built and may have some concerns. Here are the key things we need to understand:
– This is not a government home construction programme but a home repair programme.
– The government is providing immediate relief to some families and in most cases have assisted with providing materials. Some persons homes are literally falling so something needed to be done quickly.
– Most of the homes are being built by the communities.
– There is a low-income housing initiative that will be unrolled soon and this will be headed by the Department of Housing.
Some lost their homes to fires and UWP took away the distress fund that would provide any relief,” the Senator added.