Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett has accused the former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration of ushering in an era of vagrancy in this country.
He levelled that charge Tuesday during debate in Parliament on a resolution to acquire the former site of the District ‘E’ Police Station in Station Hill, St Peter and vest it in the National Housing Corporation (NHC).
Blackett claimed that vagrancy had become such a major issue during the BLP administration, that Government was forced to build the Clyde Gollop Centre in Hindsbury Road, St Michael to accommodate male vagrants.
“So stark were the cases of vagrancy in the country that the BLP Government of the day had to provide a solution for the issue. In fact, we inherited the Clyde Gollop Centre which now falls under the National Assistance Board. We had to refurbish it and expand it and upgrade it. We now accommodate a number of homeless men when night comes.
“The BLP now wants to pin vagrancy on the Democratic Labour Party. They also want to pin pit toilets on the DLP. Those scourges existed before the DLP assumed office in 2008,” Blackett insisted.
The St Michael Central Member of Parliament further contended that the ruling party had nothing to be ashamed of as far as its housing record was concerned.
He pointed to the Valerie Housing Project in Brittons Hill, St Michael, the high-rise apartment complex at the Grotto, and the Lancaster, St James housing project, where more than 700 families now live, as examples of what the present Government had done.
“The tenants can enjoy a feeling of empowerment and self-actualization for the first time in their lives,” he said.
Blackett stressed that when the DLP assumed office in 2008, housing was its flagship programme, adding that he expected it to remain so.
“We have provided more housing in the first five years of our stewardship than the BLP provided in the 14 years they were in office. They cannot argue about that. That is a given. We provided all kinds of housing solutions – rental, rent to own, clear sale and the distribution of lots. We have a stellar record when it comes to housing solutions in Barbados. That record cannot be eclipsed in any form or fashion by the BLP,” he said.
However, Blackett said he would like to see more land acquired and vested in the NHC to provide housing solutions for the people. He also suggested that Government divest more land so that the NHC could get more funds and be able to offer more housing solutions for Barbadians.