PNM chairman Franklin Khan’s opening statements at Wednesday’s PNM Macoya Divali celebration noted that Divali transcends politics.
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Homeless mothers back on streets tomorrow
Two homeless mothers who camped outside the parliament building and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) last week appealing for housing, will return to the streets tomorrow after spending the weekend with a good samaritan in San Fernando. Selika Jacob and Candice Patterson were taken in by a kind-hearted woman on Friday, who allowed them to stay with her for the weekend. However, Jacob said they will be forced to leave tomorrow when the woman’s husband returns from his off-shore job.
Jacob and Patterson shot into the limelight last week after they and another woman, Tamika Johnson, camped out on the steps of the HDC building in Port of Spain, begging for homes. After spending Thursday night on the Brian Lara Promenade in Port-of-Spain with their four children, Jacob and Patterson took their plight outside Parliament on Friday.
Johnson’s family picked her up at around 10 pm on Thursday, Jacob said, but the shelters that HDC contacted were all full, so she, Patterson and their children had to stay on the promenade for the night. The women were eventually interviewed by HDC’s social department. “They said they can’t say when and that they will visit where we’re currently staying, but they cannot guarantee anything. They said the process takes time and we have to wait,” Jacob said.
Early Friday morning, a woman took them to her home so they could shower, and they then returned to the HDC’s offices, before heading to Parliament. “We’re trying to see if we can talk to a minister. The only person we met was Mr Rowley. The Prime Minister pass us and gone straight.” Jacob said their plan was to remain at HDC until they got a definite answer, otherwise they would move into an empty HDC unit.
“We plan to move into an empty HDC house in San Fernando if nothing come out of this. I counted more than 200 empty houses in San Fernando, grass growing in some of them.”
HDC: we’re doing our best
The HDC is trying its best to speed up the process for the three women, says Maurisa Findlay, communications manager at HDC. “These women have an emergency and we would try to speed up the process for them.” She confirmed they had been interviewed and the information they gave would be checked as soon as possible.
Saying the situation with the three women was not an isolated case, Findlay said, “Because we have had such an influx of these cases, our social department was entrusted to deal with emergency housing and to conduct proper investigations. “We must conduct investigations to confirm that the details are true, because there are many people who come forward and subsequently their stories turn out to be untrue. What that does is that it disenfranchises many people who are actually in need.”
Findlay said she had called several Roman Catholic social organisations, including Living Water, Sunny Hill Children’s Home, and Eternal Light Community, on Thursday but they were unable to accommodate the women and their children. Jacob, 24, is mother to a four-year-old, an 11-month-old and is pregnant with her third child, while Patterson, 22, is mother to two children ages six and three. Jacob said the father of her children is incarcerated, while Patterson's husband is deceased.