A mother of three who is on the verge of being thrown into the streets is making an urgent appeal for assistance.
Late Thursday night, a tearful 41-year-old Germaine Felix told Barbados TODAY that coupled with struggling to feed and clothe her three children, aged 17, nine and eight, she has been asked to leave the house she has been renting at King Street, The City, by the alleged owner because she owes several months rent.
The St Lucian-born woman said she has visited the Welfare Department several times asking for financial assistance to rent another home, but her efforts have not yet been successful. However, she indicated that the department has assisted her with foodstuff in the past.
Felix admitted that she was unable to pay her $800 monthly rent and other bills since the father of her two younger children, who signed the contract to rent the house, left days after they moved in on March 1, and had not been giving her any money to assist with running the household.
Felix explained that she worked for just over BDS$100 per week as a cleaner and that was simply not enough to meet the needs of her family.
She said that though she knew she was wrong for owing the rent, she asked the landlord for more time to allow her to find some place to go.
“I ain’t got no where to go. I would like a little help from the welfare. I just want to move out because I don’t want to see these people in my face every minute so. If I could have moved out by myself I would have moved out. But I am pleading with welfare to just give me a hand, but I getting a hard time. I just with my children and just sucking salt with them,” she said.
However, Felix said she felt as though she had been living a nightmare over the past few weeks, since two people claiming to be owners of the property had been visiting the house frequently asking her to leave.
She said their visit just after 6 a.m. on Thursday morning led to police having to respond to the location after they allegedly forced their way into the house when she opened the door and started to order her to leave immediately.
“They barged in the house and break the key out the door, I don’t have no keys for the door now,” she said.
She indicated that she was told she would have to leave the house that same day.
When Barbados TODAY visited the location on Thursday night, a woman who claimed that she was the owner of the house was sitting in a car with other individuals. The woman said she was the owner of the house and that she wanted Felix to leave since she was living there illegally.
Barbados TODAY contacted Francina Springer whose name is listed on the contract as the landlord and she indicated that the persons who went to the house “have no right there because the house belong to me”.
“But she has to get out because she is not paying rent. But I will speak with Cheryl concerning that because that is not Cheryl’s house. My husband give me that house. I give her a letter to leave and I drawing up another one with the lawyer to evict her because she is not paying any rent. I can’t have her in there living free like that all the time. She paid rent in April; she didn’t pay in
May, June and July. She and gentleman move in and she should have moved out with the gentlemen,” Springer said.
Felix said she has been trying all avenues to get help, including going to Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Neil Rowe, who wrote a letter to Chief Welfare Officer Deborah Norville.
In that letter, Rowe said Felix expressed concerns that she was denied assistance for her children from the department.
“Ms Felix stated that the welfare officer had agreed to grant temporary assistance for her two children. Ms Felix further stated that she received a telephone call from welfare officer Ms A King, stating that she cannot receive the assistance anymore because she is not a Barbadian citizen. I am kindly requesting your intervention to have her matter investigated,” the letter read.
Meanwhile, Felix argued that she could not understand why she could no longer receive assistance from the department, since she has immigrant status since 1995, all her children were born here, and she was in the process of waiting for her application of citizenship to be processed by the Immigration Department.
Felix’s 17-year-old son said he was concerned that the situation was affecting him and his siblings. The teenager lamented that his mother was not refusing to leave the house; she needed to find somewhere to go first.
“I need this lady to understand that it is not a problem with quitting. We just need more time. We are in the process of leaving already. It ain’t like we putting up a fight. She keep coming here keeping noise. It is hard on my mother,” the teenager said.
A neighbour stated that he was fed up with the situation, especially because children were involved.
“She really needs the help,” the neighbour said.
When Barbados TODAY contacted the father of the two younger boys, he said he was unable to assist Felix financially since he was not working.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affair Cynthia Forde promised to contact the Chief Welfare Officer about the matter. firstname.lastname@example.org