Gov’t to provide low income homes for squatters; Focus on Sophia, East and West Ruimveldt

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(DPI/GINA)-  The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) is currently engaging financial agencies including the Inter-American Bank (IDB,) to secure funding for low-cost housing. This is to assist persons squatting on Government reserves.

Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams-Patterson said the intention is to improve the conditions under which the people live. Specific emphasis, she said, will be placed on Sophia, East and West Ruimveldt in Georgetown.

“It makes no sense you remove a squatter and give them a piece of land; they are going to move the very shack they’re living to that location, … you are just transferring a shanty town from one area to the next, and that is not what this government wants for our people….. So, my belief is that we must be able to have some low-cost houses built, whether what form we use, self-help or others…We build the house, and then we relocate that squatter,” Minister Patterson said.

It is the view of the CHPA that the people’s standard of living must be raised and provided with all the necessary amenities, in keeping with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ensuring access to safe and affordable housing, Minister Adams-Patterson explained.

From data collected, CH&PA is looking at the relocation of close to 12,000 persons. These include people from East and West Ruimveldt, Sophia and Diamond on the East Bank Demerara. However, this figure only accounts for those persons who have been squatting for a certain number of years, not those who continue to build on squatting areas or those that rebuild on areas previous cleared of squatters.

Minister Adams-Patterson made it clear that those persons, who are not on the ministry’s inventory, will be served notice to dismantle and remove.  “Since we’ve been saying that we will be relocating those persons, there has been a mad rush for squatting, and overnight some shacks are being erected. You are not on the inventory, and you will be served contravention notice to dismantle, and if you don’t, we will dismantle you,” the minister warned.

Industry is one of the areas identified to have those houses built because it is in close proximity to Sophia and East and West Ruimveldt, Minister Adams-Patterson explained.

She said that it is the intention of CHPA to have this project included in its 2018 budget in December so that works can begin early next year.

While CH&PA has been working to relocate persons living in zero tolerance areas, (on government reserves) the authority has also been working to regularise a number of areas including Angoy’s Avenue (Cow Dam) which is the largest squatter settlement in Region Six, and has approximately 1010 lots.

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