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John: We’re looking after Carlton Lane residents
“Malicious and dishonest.” This is how managing-director of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Jearlean John described a letter published in last Sunday Guardian purporting to be a statement from upset residents in the HDC’s Carlton Lane, San Fernando, housing development.
The letter, penned under the name “Concerned Residents, Carlton Lane, San Fernando”, claimed the HDC unilaterally decided to remove residents from the development without consultation. In the letter also alleged the HDC informed them they would be relocated to another area where they would be made to pay an increased rent.
It claimed the relocated residents would have to pay a 700 to 800 per cent increase from the rent they currently paid. John, in a brief telephone interview on Monday, said for years residents in Carlton Lane had been “bitterly complaining” about the conditions there. She said the HDC had been working with them to address their concerns.
She added: “The problem in Carlton Lane is the residents have long outgrown the property. That building is 40 years old. Families that started with two and three members have now grown to 15 people in a one-bedroom apartment. It is in very poor condition”. Cheryl Thomas, a tenant of the complex, said she was unaware of the letter purporting to be from her neighbours and objecting to their relocation.
She said: “We are willing to move, I want a bigger apartment. It is 14 years I have been here. I have boys and girls. It is not a problem to move. “I do not know about this letter. No one came to me with a petition. The people I talk to are glad to move. I could say for me, and we glad to make a change”.
Thomas, who lives with her husband and five children in a two-bedroom apartment, said the residents’ main concern was how much they would have to pay for their new apartments. “They never told us what they going to do with the building. They never told us how much we will have to pay. All they tell us is we are going to Corinth Hill,” she said.
John said the residents would be relocated to a new community of three-bedroom apartments in Corinth. She said the HDC went into Carlton Lane and consulted with residents to have them relocated there. “Everyone agreed when we went in,” she added. She said she would be visiting the Corinth apartments today to ensure they were ready for the relocation, which was expected to begin at the end of this month.
John explained at the last meeting with residents letters were handed to them for their new apartments. “What they are asking for is if they could get more than one apartment,” she said. John dismissed claims that the rent had been increased.
She said: “This thing about rent pushing up 700 per cent, that is very dishonest. Currently some people are paying $100 a month in rent.
“The tenant who is on public assistance and on welfare will be paying $350 a month for a new three-bedroom apartment. If they put that up on the private market it could easily fetch $3,000 to $4,000”. She added there were adult members of families who would have inherited apartments and were capable of paying rent.
John said an HDC office would be set up at Carlton Lane to address residents’ concerns and assist with relocation. She ssaid: “Everybody has to be relocated. It is the only time we have a block of apartments to be moved”. “So as soon as they are relocated we will move to demolish and rebuild the building”.
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