Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2014 Contents A5
Friday, June 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Three desperate single mothers
and their six children occupied the
doorsteps of the Housing Develop-
ment Corporation s head office,
South Quay, Port-of-Spain, yester-
day, in the hope that authorities
there would provide them each with
The three mothers arrived at the
office at 1 am yesterday. At 5 am,
when security staff arrived, they were
allowed to wait inside. But when the
office was opened to the public, they
reassumed their position on the
doorstep after being asked to leave.
In an interview with the T&T
Guardian, Candice Patterson, 22, a
mother of two girls, said: "We need
help. We need a roof for we children.
We struggling and I begging for help
for the last three years."
Patterson produced a letter from
the National Family Services Division
at the Ministry of Gender, Youth, and
Child Development, dated December
13, 2013, and addressed to HDC man-
aging director Jearlean John, which
said she needed housing.
"Welfare sent letters to Ms Jearlean
John pertaining to my situation but
no response was made," she said.
Patterson, who lives in San Fer-
nando, said she had no permanent
residence and had not slept in days.
"I am under people step and stuff
sleeping. That is just how it does be,"
Patterson said she worked at a casi-
no but was not sure if she still had
the job. She said one of her daughters
was "irregular" in school and the
other one suffered from bronchioli-
tis.Lamenting that she had no family,
she said: "My mother dead, child
father dead, brothers in jail and I don t
know... the uncle I know dead. I really
don t have any family, is only me and
my children alone."
Selika Jacob, 23, the mother of two
and eight months pregnant, said she
lived in an abandoned house in San
"I am presently homeless, living
in a house that I secure with galvanise
and it have no current and no lights."
In the last six months, she said,
several letters were sent on her behalf
from social welfare to HDC.
"Up to now I have not gotten any
response. I came here about one this
morning and give Jearlean John a
letter and she said she cannot make
One of the letters, dated June 11,
2014, from the Ministry of Gender,
Youth and Child Development, indi-
cated Jacob was in need of "emer-
gency" housing accommodation.
"This is the third time I ll be on
news and no one is helping. I m just
here to see what sort of action they
Tamika Johnson, the mother of
three children---aged five, two and
one---said she was not homeless but
if she did not get a home soon, she
would be. Also from San Fernando,
she said she was fed up of depending
"I have family and they know my
situation and they not doing anything
to help me, so I take a stand today
to do something for myself for the
betterment of myself and my chil-
She said she met Patterson and
Jacob at the social welfare office on
"Eventually I will reach there in
the situation they are and I am here
today in support of what they doing
Senate President Timothy
Hamel-Smith was put in the hot
seat by a student during a function
yesterday, after she asked him why
Sport Minister Anil Roberts had
not been fired from the Cabinet.
The question was posed to
Hamel-Smith, a senior member of
the Congress of the People (COP),
by 17-year-old Latesha Taylor at the
Chaguanas North Secondary School,
where he had gone to do a Parlia-
ment outreach programme.
Hamel-Smith had just finished
lecturing to students of Chaguanas
North and South Secondary Schools
on understanding the Standing
Orders of Parliament, and students
were invited to ask questions.
Taylor went up to the microphone
in the middle of the auditorium and
asked: "I would like to know why
Anil Roberts wasn t fired by the Gov-
There have been calls from the
Opposition for Roberts resignation
and the national executive of his
party, the COP, after the leak of a
video showing a man resembling a
government minister rolling a sub-
stance resembling marijuana in a
cigarette in the company of women
in a hotel room.
Roberts has neither confirmed nor
denied he is the man in the video
and has constantly told the media
since it was aired that his lawyers
were now handling the situation.
His lack of co-operation with a
COP team probing the issue has also
led to his suspension from the party.
Historian Prof Brinsley Samaroo,
who was seated at the head table
with Hamel-Smith yesterday,
answered the question.
He said Roberts had not been fired
because Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar had to decide how long
before he became an MP the video
was made and whether he was in it.
Samaroo added: "These are
important considerations for the
Prime Minister before she makes her
"They are now doing inquiries
whether it was a cigarette the man
in the video was smoking and if he
was smoking weed, whether it was
something illegal during that time.
"She has to be very careful about
the decision she makes. That explains
why Roberts has not been fired."
Samaroo told Taylor many people
may have ambitions to enter Par-
liament and it was important to start
living an exemplary life from now.
"People go back into your past---
ten, 15 years ago---and make up all
kinds of things you are alleged to
He recalled that when former US
president George Bush was a pres-
idential candidate, someone said he
had smoked marijuana with him 15
years before and it became big news.
"You have to watch your behaviour
from long before," Samaroo advised
Samaroo said it was yet to be
determined whether the video was
made long before Roberts went to
"The Opposition is saying it does
not matter if it was made before,
during or after, that he was seen
pulling a joint ," he added.
The schools involved in yesterday s
event are attended by children from
surrounding areas, including Enter-
prise and Edinburgh 500.
Why is Anil still in Govt?
Student puts Hamel-Smith in hot seat
3 desperate moms camp outside HDC hoping for homes
People seeking HDC housing
must follow established
processes, says Maurisa Findlay,
communication manager at HDC.
Addressing the three mothers,
Findlay said: "We at the HDC
cannot say immediately that
there is a home waiting. There is
a process. The HDC does not
have a system that as long as
you come here with a need you
will immediately be taken care of.
"The policy of the HDC is that
we examine the situation, we
send individuals like these to our
social department, they are
examined, their details are taken
and we work with them to see
where possible housing can be
made available to them.
"Their situation is something
that breaks all of our hearts but
this is an organisation that
operates on the principle of
Saying the HDC was
committed to the three mothers,
she said she had called several
charitable organisations to find a
way to provide immediate shelter
to the mothers and their children.
Findlay said the three mothers
were eventually interviewed by
the social department and
assured their cases would be
looked at in more detail.
Three mothers with their children camped outside the Housing Development Company, South Quay, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
Students of Chaguanas North and South Secondary Schools listen
attentively to a presentation from Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith
during yesterday's Parliament outreach programme.
PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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