Three years after Neisha Wattley gained notoriety for her “that making sense” response to Government granting her impoverished family State housing in Freeport, she has been kicked out.
Wattley’s eviction by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) came yesterday after residents of Eden Gardens complained about illegal activities taking place at the house where she, her common-law husband Chris Rambhal and four children lived.
The HDC said it retrieved the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house following a thorough investigation, which revealed that the family had not occupied the unit for quite some time. Several interventions were made by HDC’s Social and Community Services Department, Mortgage and Rentals Department and Allocations Department to work with the family. However, the HDC said she did not take advantage of the options given.
“It is quite unfortunate that after numerous attempts to help Ms Wattley, we had to take this action. I do hope that she is able to receive the requisite support from other State agencies to help her and her young children with the challenges she may be experiencing,” HDC’s managing director Brent Lyons said yesterday.
The house will now be allocated to another person or family on the public housing database. The HDC said Wattley’s case is one of many which required action over the past six months during which it has increased its verification exercises in order to identify breaches related to illegal occupancy, non-occupation and other homeowner breaches. Once a homeowner is found to be in breach of the rules and regulations, the HDC said due process will be followed to enforce the rules and regulations.
Wattley, a market vendor, had a tragic shot into the spotlight in 2014 when she cradled her unconscious six-month-old son Christopher Rambhal in her arms and ran frantically in the middle of the night for help. At a police station, almost a half mile away, she waited 30 minutes for an ambulance. But by the time they arrived at a hospital, Christopher had died. An autopsy revealed that he choked while being breastfed by Wattley, who had fallen asleep.
It was then the country saw the squalor Wattley and her family suffered in their small, windowless shack, with no water or electricity, in a bushy area near the riverbank in Perseverance, Chaguanas. Then Minister of the People and Social Development, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin promised help with government housing or a lot of land through the Land for the Landless programme. Alleyne-Toppin also said she would help the family to start their own business.
In December 2016, former Housing and Urban Development minister Randall Mitchell presented Wattley and her family with keys to their home, $20,000 worth of items from a local furniture and appliance company and a pre-paid entertainment television package.
In a subsequent media interview, Wattley said the location of her new home was difficult for commuting herself and children and wanted to be relocated. It was reported that she even said that she would go back to her shack. It was then she made her infamous “That making any sense?” comment, which saw her being the subject of public discussions and social media memes, but also landed her a gig in a party promotion.
The HDC said that following the allocation, its Social and Community Services Department maintained contact with Wattley and her family in an effort to facilitate a seamless transition to home ownership and community living. On several occasions when HDC officials visited, she was not there and neighbours told Guardian Media that the occupant of the house had broken into resident’s home.