Front Page
October 3, 2014
Residents describe housing defects, demand answers

One by one, they took to the floor, describing the structural defects they had observed in their homes and demanding answers from government officials.

Supporting their presentations with still photographs and videos of the defects, 17 of the dozens of worried owners of homes in the Clare Valley housing development{{more}} spoke of being afraid to sleep in their homes since one of the houses in the development came crashing down on September 19.

The homeowners had their say on September 27, at a meeting at the Clare Valley community centre with officials of the Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC), the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Works.

The homeowners complained of shaking houses; cracks in the floors, walls and columns; the size of the columns used to support the houses; floor and wall tiles popping up or falling off; tiles feeling hollow as you knock on them or cracking as you walk on them; an absence of beams in some cases and an insufficient number of columns; an absence of drains; lack of an access road to some properties; no meter columns; an absence of street lights in some areas; and anbsence of river defences for houses built near to the river.

Several property owners also complained of what they considered the disrespect meted out to them by the HLDC.

One woman said when she complained to then manager of the HLDC Maurice Slater about the absence of beams in her house, she was told that her beams were “floating beams” and even though she could not see them, they were there.

Another woman, who said she has lived in the housing development for two years, said for all that time, she has been complaining, to no avail.

“ … I have been insulted, I have been brushed aside…”

Rhondeen George, who also owns a house in the development, said even before she occupied the house, she had been complaining to the HLDC.

“I remember going to visit the site and seeing a lot of things that to my untrained eye were not in keeping with what I think should be happening when a house is being constructed.”

She said when she complained, she was told she would not be allowed to visit the house while it was under construction.

George said she complained in writing to the HLDC and was disconcerted when Slater, in a written reply, told her that if she was not happy, she could have a refund of her money.

Kevin Young, while listing structural defects, said his concerns extend beyond the physical deficiencies of his property.

He said he wrote to the present manager of the HLDC Elvis Charles and found it to be “highly disrespectful” that his letter was not responded to.

“…None of us here is asking anyone to cover our mortgage payments; none of us is walking around asking for a dollar here and there to make our mortgage payments; it is coming out of our salaries directly. I found it highly disrespectful that I sent in a three-page letter, one with words, two with pictures in colour, with all the problems I had, and nothing was done…”

Young asked the officials to say what they intend to do to rectify the situation.

“…We can’t tolerate it. What we need to know is what are you going to do? We have had enough….”

Present at the meeting were Minister of Housing Montgomery Daniel, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works Julian Francis, chair of the HLDC Beresford Phillips and manager of the HLDC Elvis Charles, who all addressed the gathering. The officials gave assurances that the complaints would be dealt with speedily.

Minister Daniel expressed regret about the negative experiences some homeowners had while dealing with the HLDC.

“So, it is regrettable that complaints may have been made to the HLDC and affirmative action may not have been taken at the time. But rest assured I want to say to you, I want to say to the homeowners of Clare Valley, that this government will do what it has to do to ensure the safety of the people, the homeowners who would have established property at this project site at Clare Valley.”

In addition to the government officials, the meeting was also attended by parliamentary representative for South Leeward Nigel Stephenson and Unity Labour Party (ULP) caretaker for the area and candidate in the next general elections, Jomo Thomas.

The first houses in the Clare Valley housing project were handed over to homeowners in 2011. There are, at present, 58 houses there, valued at an average of $130,000 each.