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Charford Court tenants take troubles to mayor
Approximately 50 residents of Charford Court apartments at Charlotte and Oxford Streets, Port-of-Spain, aired their grievances when mayor Louis Lee Sing visited the area yesterday. Residents claim the complex has not been updated since its construction in 1986 and several complaints to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) have remained unresolved. Lee Sing, in his walkabout in the area, was accompanied by deputy mayor and councillor for the area Keron Valentine and MP Patricia McIntosh. Among the issues raised by residents were leaking ceilings and walls, an irregular water supply, lack of elevators and fire escapes, pigeon infestation and the introduction of two-year contracts for tenants. McIntosh said she had organised for HDC officials to inspect the complex last year.
She added that it has been a year since that visit when extensive notes on the maintenance issues for each apartment were recorded, yet nothing had been done. “No matter what government is in power, our lives remain the same in here,” said musician Clive Telemaque, who has lived in the complex for 27 years. He said residents who lived there all their lives should be given the opportunity to purchase. Charford Court was formerly a barrack yard, but now comprises six buildings with a total of 225 apartments. There are at least 1,000 people living in the complex. Residents said a contract system was introduced a few years ago that they deem unfair, particularly to elderly residents. It requires tenants to sign two-year contracts for their apartments, which are subject to review by the HDC. Elderly residents now fear they would be forced to leave if they are deemed unsuitable tenants. Gordon LaBarrie, vice president of the Charford Community Association, said, “We hope the mayor will be able to speak to someone in authority to have the buildings refurbished.” Lee Sing said he invited the media to highlight the issues of residents and would follow up his visit with a letter to the HDC.
Managing director of HDC Jearlean John said Charford Court residents needed to present the media with evidence of their complaints they have lodged and of their two-year contracts. She said work was being carried out in all surrounding complexes as well as Charford Court. John also said the HDC has always operated with a contract system.
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