Tenants at the Housing Development Corporation’s Clifton Towers in Port-of-Spain are calling for permanent security in and around the compound, saying they are now living in constant fear of bullying and reprisal attacks by gang members after the HDC evicted illegal tenants from the site.
The issue was addressed on Friday in the Parliament by Housing Minister Randall Mitchell, who told the House police and Defence Force members had evicted illegal tenants twice from the four-tower development, following complaints of unlawful activity and illegal apartment occupation.
Police and soldiers arrested and evicted 15 people and the compound is now being closely monitored, Mitchell said. (See page A8)
But speaking under strict anonymity yesterday, tenants told the T&T Guardian they fear for their lives as some of them are being labelled as “informants” and now their lives are being threatened by the criminal element.
One tenant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they are the highest paying tenants in all of PoS, at $800 a month. He said initially there was security for the project but that was stopped years ago.
“With that money we ought to be getting security personnel here, but they moved out the security years ago and it’s years now we are trying to get HDC to put back security here for our safety,” the tenant said.
“It is really the HDC fault now that the situation reach where it reach with gang people moving in and bullying us, threatening us, beating us and influencing our children. They selling drugs…all kinds of racket going on here and like the people in Government afraid to stand up against them.”
The residents had also complained to former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and former HDC managing director Jearlean John about their issues during the People’s Partnership rule and noted it would only get worse. The tenants back then also called for the establishment of several programmes, including homework supervision, a daycare, gym, an adult training facility and meeting rooms.
But John advised the tenants then to form a residents’ association to oversee the maintenance, security, operations and community relations of the entire development. The tenants were also advised to set up neighbourhood watch systems and to develop a good working relationship with the police station within the district.
Speaking about the response back then, a tenant yesterday said: “It is like they throw us to the wolves out there years ago when we are paying a rent here and HDC is the one who are supposed to be maintaining here and providing security for us. How could they ask us to do that for ourselves when we paying them for a service and to live here?”
Tenants also claimed that there are adverse plumbing issues, leaks and infrastructural damage and called on the current HDC management to deal with their issues.
“We want HDC to move in and see about upgrades and repairs and put back security for us because it is their fault that we are in this ugly situation,” on tenant added.
Questions sent to the current HDC managing director Brent Lyons on the ongoing issue have gone unanswered.