Fuming and frustrated residents of Government housing units in Kensington Lodge, The City say they are in desperate need of help, as they face a wide range of potentially dangerous problems in their homes and community.
They say they have been neglected and left to contend with garbage pile-ups, overgrown bush, and homes that are falling apart in some cases, and have received no assistance from the National Housing Corporation (NHC) or other relevant authorities despite their cries for help.
When Barbados TODAY visited the area, residents registered their frustration in profanity-laced complaints about what they said were substandard living conditions.
Audrey Miller, 69, was the most vocal, saying that while other suffering residents were afraid to speak out, she would make her voice heard, since “this is my democratic right and I living through it!”
“We call, we do all sorta things, but we not getting any help. They still ain’t reply to we,” she lamented, as she led the call for authorities to urgently pay her and her neighbours some attention.
She said she had contacted Chairman of the National Assistance Board Senator David Durant for assistance as well, since there were several elderly residents who were facing hardship, but to no avail.
Miller, who has been living in Kensington Lodge for the last 36 years, claimed garbage collection was as infrequent as every three to four months.
“The last three years was the worst. Nobody cleans out here. Not even the garbage truck comes through . . . . Out here does be dirty . . . . The mosquitoes out here, and rats,” the elderly woman comlained, adding that overgrown bush and lack of functioning streetlights also added to the worries.
Miller said that recognizing the potential health and safety hazard, residents previously came together and cleaned the area.
However, she said, the shed in which they housed the equipment and materials for the cleanup was subsequently dismantled by law enforcement officials.
Another one of the neighbours, who did not want to be named, was incensed by the police action.
“We out here are trying to keep the place clean and get rid of the rats and them ain’t helping we, but them lick down we shed . . . .You feel that is right?” the resident said.
Miller also alleged that one of her neighbours was dealt a slap in the face when workers from the NHC cleaned the woman’s septic tank and buried the contents next to her home.
“It is nastiness . . . .All them things they doing to poor people . . . that can’t work,” an angry Miller protested.
She also complained about the poor state of some units which have leaky roofs and are in a general state of disrepair.
One other resident took the Barbados TODAY team to one of the blocks to point out the steps leading up to the units were waterlogged, and their steel supports exposed.
“The steps are the only way to get into the apartments above, and with the damage it is extremely dangerous,” he said.
Pensioner Margaret Edwards added her voice to the complaints about the poor condition of the units.
“The houses cracking up and all sorts of things going on,” the 68-year-old woman said, adding that the doors on the units were falling apart and posed a security risk.
Miller said that although the authorities had announced that residents would get ownership of the units, they were yet to receive the legal papers to confirm the transfer. Therefore, she argued, Government still had responsibility for the upkeep of the units and had so far failed miserably in that regard.
“We ain’t paying no rent, but we ain’t get no papers for these houses, so that means that they aren’t we own. The process ain’t finish yet so they still must take care of out here . . . . The lawyers got everybody papers out here, but we ain’t get [no word] to say ‘go long and do the house,’” the elderly resident said.
The resident said neither Member of Parliament Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party nor his predecessor, Patrick Todd of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) had been able to get them any relief.
“I spoke to Bostic. He went in the House of Assembly and nobody ain’t pay him no mind at all. All de talk bout cleaning up out here, they talk but they ain’t do it,” Miller said.
Her neighbour, Edwards, scoffed when asked about Todd’s representation under the DLP administration.
“I did living out here from 1985 . . . all the DLP do is stop me from paying rent. I ain’t got no house cause I ain’t got nutting that I could go in a bank and say, ‘look, I want six doors. I want you lend me some money and I going pay you back at least $100 a month to get these six doors,’” she complained.