HDC prepares to demolish East PoS complex

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TO BE DEMOLISHED: Scaffolding surround the HDC’s housing complex on Duncan Street in East Port of Spain on Wednesday, the latest indication of the buildings being earmarked for demolition. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –

THE Housing Development Corporation (HDC) began preparations to demolish homes at its Duncan Street and Independence Square, Port of Spain complex on Wednesday after erecting scaffolding around the buildings.

On Saturday plans to relocate residents from the 28 apartments were highlighted after people staged a fiery protest claiming they were being evicted without a place to go to.

The HDC said then that those evicted were illegally occupying homes, and on Tuesday, they gave legitimate home-owners an extra week to fully move into new homes, which some residents said was still not enough time.

Newsday visited the area on Wednesday and spoke to residents who were all happy and eager to be relocated.

One man, who is not a resident, said he wished he could have been relocated away from an area where gunshots and crime are commonplace. Some residents claimed that those who protested on the weekend were not even from that community and were supporting illegal occupants.

“After the HDC gave you the keys for your new place, you had a month to move out. People who are still here are here because where they are going has some small work still to do,” said a man who did not want to be identified.

He added that after tenants moved out, others moved in hoping to force the HDC to provide them with homes. This he said was the reason HDC removed the windows and doors from the apartments which were vacated.

Another man, who smoked a marijuana joint while speaking with Newsday, said those who protested on Saturday were not residents, and after they protested, some were even hired to help demolish the buildings, starting with removing the roof.

The relocation is part of HDC’s plan to “revitalise” East Port of Spain.

Pensioner Colleen Mendoza claimed the move by HDC came without proper consultation, but this was disputed by her neighbours who said tenants had conversations with the HDC prior to Saturday’s protest.

Mendoza said HDC officials caused electricity to be cut from the apartments after evicting them and destroyed toilet bowls and sinks in some apartments, but not hers. Newsday could not go into the apartments to verify her claims as they were boarded shut.

The 73-year-old woman said her daughter Shani received an apartment but not her, although the current apartment is in her (Mendoza) name. She said the HDC told her she will have to live with her daughter.

The main complaint from residents who were there when Newsday visited was that some residents who were vacating a three-bedroom apartment, were assigned two-bedroom units.