A former Minister of Housing revealed today that National Housing Corporation (NHC) tenants had made nearly 1, 000 illegal extensions to rental units when he came to the ministry.
Michael Lashley, the St Philip North Member of Parliament (MP), made the disclosure as Parliament debated the Crown Lands (Vesting and Disposal) Act. The resolution will provide conveyances to hundreds of tenants in the sprawling public housing development in Deacons, St Michael.
In the face of Opposition criticism that the move was highly political as the Freundel Stuart Government seeks to woo electors as a general election nears, Lashley blasted the former administration saying it knew there were many issues preventing the transfer of NHC units to the tenants, but still took money from them.
However, he said the former Barbados Labour Party-administration gave NHC tenants the impression they could secure title deeds when they could not provide them for many reasons.
According to the St Philip North MP, at the time, there were illegal extensions, including four at Lammings, St Joseph; 67 at Haynesville, St James; 31 at the Ivy; 39 at Bonnets; 132 at Deacons Farm; 81 at Eden Lodge; 49 at Fernihurst; 165 at Wildey and a staggering 299 at The Pine, St Michael.
To make matters worse, he told the House of Assembly the BLP was unsuccessful in that NHC housing policy because the NHC was not in a position to transfer titles to tenants who were asked to make deposits because the agency did not have ownership of the properties in the first place.
Lashley said the former administration was aware of several matters preventing the transfer, including a lack of surveyors, asbestos roofs that needed replacing, an inadequate NHC legal department, required financing, a need to extend the programme to more constituencies as well as issues with illegal extensions and encroachments.
Lashley also pointed to one case involving an elderly tenant who used her life’s savings as a deposit for the unit she lived in for more than 20 years. He said a case was made on the elderly woman’s behalf and she was refunded her money and given free title under the Stuart administration’s policy of transfer to persons who lived in units for 20 or more years.