Woman begs for public housing for elderly neighbour
RANDOLPH SMITH sits among heaps of garbage, clothes and kitchen items inside his small wooden shack.
Front Page
February 17, 2023

Woman begs for public housing for elderly neighbour

by Jada Chambers

Barrouallie resident, Wilma Oliver is seeking assistance to get her elderly neighbour Randolph Smith, who is said to be living in a deplorable state into a ‘poor home.’

After exhausting all her options in getting her neighbour into a public housing facility, Oliver is now seeking public assistance to help improve Smith’s living situation as his current home is in a filthy and deteriorating state.

Smith, better known as ‘Soto,’ is 77 years old and is originally from Paul’s Avenue, Kingstown. However, as far as residents can recall, Smith has been residing in Barrouallie for over 40 years, and is currently living in a small wooden shack that is wedged between an old, rusty truck and a river. Inside the house are heaps of garbage, musty clothes, and kitchen items that are sprawled across the floor.


WILMA OLIVER, Randolph Smith’s neighbour, stands in front of the old truck and Smith’s shack.

On Friday, February, 10, Oliver told SEARCHLIGHT that she has attempted to seek help from the police, social welfare department and even his daughter, to transfer him to a home but has found little help to do so.

“I met his daughter, someone show me his daughter” who works at one of the country’s hospitals,Oliver related.

“ I speak to her and she told me that she have her mother and she wanted help with her mother and she can’t take her father. Well I sympathized with her, I tell her well he needs a little help to clean up the place because I will give him food…She asked for his ID card for she to get public assistance for him, and to this day, she never give him anything,” Smith’s neighbour claimed.

“ When I send and asked her for the ID card, her message to me is that ‘nobody don’t tell me to take responsibility that is not mine.’

“I went to the police station [in January 2023] for help to get the ID card back so that I can bring it back to him and if she wanted she could come and get it from me. She refused to give me the ID. I brought [a representative from the social welfare department] and up to this time, no help from him…” she added.

No longer certain how to further address the matter, Oliver is hoping that Smith’s condition will receive attention as she believes that his home has gotten to the point where he can no longer reside there in a healthy manner.

“All now so, he complains about coldness because the river is just behind here, back to the back of the house…I asked some people to help, his house was leaking…no help from government. I went to the area, he said that the girl doesn’t want to cooperate to give them the information. I went up to Welfare, everybody’s asking me for the ID, and [his daughter] is not willing to give it to me…I don’t mind giving him the food, but the condition is not nice. It’s not nice at all,” Oliver related.

“He dey here since I came round here. I meet him here so living. Nobody coming here to see him and then…he can’t walk as he should. He can only hold on top the truck there and come in front there to sit down,” Oliver related pointing to the areas she was speaking about.

“ Most of the time it’s inside he does be. Well seeing that he has nobody here, I try to help him…give him food…” she said.


Despite providing food for Smith his neighbour said she has a medical ailment which prohibits her from engaging in strenuous activities, and is therefore unable to assist him in keeping his home clean.

“In there smell real bad sometimes, you see how I can’t wash…you see one bucket he get there, me does carry a drop of water give him, but he does wash it out, how in there real dirty…I can’t go with them to wash,” she explained.

“He well want some clothes, he don’t have no good clothes. I take him to the hospital, doctor say his blood is very low,” she continued.

Oliver said that Smith also suffers from asthma and he is unable to walk well on his own.

“He can’t come out to go toilet, you see some pampers inside there, those are what I got for him, and he use them how he can’t walk to come out…”.

She said that another resident of the area provides assistance to Smith by giving him packages of food and sanitary items whenever he can, but despite the aid he is still in need of a comfortable home.

SEARCHLIGHT tried speaking with Smith about his life but his speech was halting. “Me nah have no family, them gone…all about,” he said adding that although he would like to live in a better house, he feels alright and “…well you have to live.”

Residents who knew Smith very well said that he resided in a house on the bayside of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Beach in Barrouallie but was forced out due to the land being purchased.
Berkley ‘Budoo’ Caesar said, “He used to work with me…he used to drive my pick-up and so. Also he was my mechanic at the time. It’s me who gave him the land…I used to be the manager of the estate once, so I break down the old building and I gave him those wood to build up the shack…They say some Adams buy over the land and he had to go up to the top where he living now,” Caesar related.

“He wasn’t an easy man to go with… but we used to come along real good,” he added.

Winston Mason said he has known Smith for most of his life.

“From since I was a little boy- and I’m fifty something years, he was living down here, he used to do mechanic work and all them kind of stuff…He was a good guy, always looking to help you out with your vehicle and everything like that…he used to drive. All over St. Vincent people know him, if you go anywhere, they used to call him scratchy…”.

Another resident added “…right now he’s ageing and he really wants help…that man used to drive the fish car for people, he wasn’t no violent man nor nothing so. He was a calm fellow. If you hear his voice, it’s he and somebody arguing about wisdom or something so.”

Residents extend their well wishes as they hope that Smith will finally be moved into a public housing facility.