Member of Parliament for St Michael East Trevor Prescod is calling on Government to build stronger and larger housing units to accommodate growing families.
Prescod made the appeal in Parliament while speaking on a resolution for Government to acquire the Coombs House, Whitepark Road property to build five quads.
He also stressed that the situation at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) where there are over 25 000 applications needs to be rectified.
Prescod said financial resources must be pooled into building fully accessible, high-rise buildings to cut the list of applicants at NHC and also tackle the challenge of squatting.
The Member of Parliament argued that there are too many cramped housing units being constructed across the island that are not disabled friendly, nor do they have space for further development.
“As though you are saying to the general public, shutdown your reproductive system. This is a one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit and you can’t buy some of the modern equipment that everybody is talking about and put in it, so whatever you do, make sure you visit family planning first. It seems to be the thinking of how a special type of bourgeoisie thinks about poor people,” he said.
Prescod also indicated that he would like to see professionals, including social workers, included in discussions on how to maximize the use of land space to provide adequate housing solutions for persons living in densely populated areas.
“They would bring in another big family from outside the community and create other social problems in it as well,” Prescod said. “I believe that we have to be extremely clear on a housing policy as we go forward. And that cannot be done by showing land space to an architect, or draughtsman, and he just comes up with almost a fixed position on how these houses should be laid out in blocks.
“He might do a little design at the top of the roof, but basically you are seeing the same thing over and over again. In many cases, it is like scratching the surface of a major problem that we have had from the inception. And when I say we, I am very clear of who we is. I am talking about poor black people who are homeless in the society.”
He added: “We have houses constructed across Barbados and no consideration for the disabled community. And that is why I said that the community has to be very much involved in the planning because you have families that apply for units at the National Housing Corporation (NHC), sometimes not only aging persons but you have people who are amputees. You have people who are challenged, sometimes from birth and then these people still got to get up those stairs.’’
The MP also raised concerns about the number of young people leaving home at an early age and building small crudely built shacks which do not have a long life expectancy or potential for family planning.
Prescod said Government must invest money in areas, including Bellevue, the Belle, Odessa McClean, Licorish Village, all areas in his constituency where large families are living in small houses.
Meanwhile, the MP thanked Government for moving expeditiously to put in the necessary infrastructure to allow hundreds of residents in his constituency the opportunity to have access to water.
“In a state of uncertainty, lack of ownership, there are lots of things poor people would like to do but they can’t do,” Prescod said. “If that kind of transfer can be done, with what we are doing now, I am sure that people would be able to access mortgages. This is a humane government and I would like to believe that this Government would put a fund available to help poor people.
“I don’t want to spend all of my years in here and then cannot go to a home in my community and see people enjoying the comfort that other people enjoyed all their lives. At least let them enjoy it for ten years of their lifetime. Put them in a position that they can transfer the land to their families. This is going to be a major and revolutionary kind of approach and I would hope that the Government could really see this as enough to continue doing it. There are some people who do not believe you have to spend money on barefoot people.” (AH)