A massive effort to improve the living conditions of struggling single mother Katura Luke has taken a shocking twist.
Barbados TODAY understands that the owner of the lot at Diamond Valley, St Philip where Luke lives has given no permission for cleaning or renovations to take place on his property and has enlisted the services of an attorney to resolve the matter.
As social media sensation Jordan English commenced The Luke Family Home Renovation, Mervin Jones, whose uncle owns the property revealed that rent had not been paid for the last six years and the unsightly home was in fact up for sale.
“Unimpressed” with the ongoing “hype” surrounding the endeavor, Jones is instead urging Barbadians to get the full story before “jumping on bandwagons”.
“You can’t just go on someone else’s land and carry out renovations just because a man goes on social media saying that we have to be sympathetic. Sympathy doesn’t pay to repair a house,” Jones told Barbados TODAY.
“There is more to this story than meets the eye and I can speak because I am directly involved with it and I spoke to the landowner’s attorney and told her to get her hands on this because I don’t think any renovations are going to take place at this time,” he declared.
But on Wednesday afternoon, English started honoring a promise to improve the family’s deplorable condition. Photos and videos from his social media page captured a team of youngsters cleaning a massive amount of garbage from the house with help from Jose Y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management.
The matter was thrust into the public domain on Monday, when the 23-year-old launched an appeal to assist Luke who is living in squalor as she raises four children and battles a myriad of serious health issues.
On Tuesday, management of Crane Resorts facilitated a seven-day stay for Luke and her children who have been promised a newly renovated home in seven days.
The young man has since launched a website and is accepting donations to aid the initiative.
Up to press time, efforts to reach English and Jose Y Jose’s Managing Director, Anderson Cherry were unsuccessful.
In the meantime, Jones, who is perplexed by the developments explained that a well-kept and fully furnished house with a new television, fridge and stove was offered to Luke approximately ten years ago after the death of his aunt, who previously occupied the property.
The Rural Development Commission (RDC) had been paying rent on Luke’s behalf, but stopped sometime in 2014.
The caretaker added that in 2013, the house had been repaired and another estimate for improvements to the tune of $7,600 had been done. However, with no rent being paid, repairs were simply not feasible.
“Three offers were made to her, including one from the current Member of Parliament for the area [Indar Weir], who is being ridiculed now to go to a house in Church Village, St. Phillip and she refused,” claimed Jones, a former school teacher, well known umpire and cricket match referee.
“Now you will try to stop my uncle from getting rid of that property, which is now filled with bottles and all kinds of rubbish?” he asked.
“It is laudable what the gentleman is trying to do. But when he went to the house and saw the for sale sign he should have asked some questions, because everybody in Diamond Valley knows me,” he added.
When contacted, Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Lands Charles Griffith admitted that the family “is known” to the RDC. He said that an officer from the commission visited the property on Tuesday to carry out an assessment.
Meanwhile, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde said she received “background information” on the unfolding situation and is preparing to meet with the relevant social agencies to develop a plan to assist Katura and her family.