Living in hell on earth.
That was how a Chaguanas man summed up his living conditions as he desperately pleaded with the Government for a home for his family.
Anthony Grant, 54, who lives at Tanager Drive in Edinburgh 500 said everything seems to be falling apart and his family has been struggling to survive in the past few years. Grant lives with his common-law wife Anna Hosein, 51, and their two sons ages 17 and 12.
The wooden structure is not wired for electricity and does not have pipe-borne water.
Their problems took a turn for the worse when the Government imposed the stay-at-home orders, a measure to flatten the curve of the covid19 virus.
To fill containers, they must drive about two miles for water.
“We have been taking chances to go to Lange Park by the recreation grounds to get water from a pipe. We are not begging anyone for food. We want a proper place to live. I will pay for it because I am employed. My two children go to school.”
Grant works as a labourer with the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation.
Holding his head and trying to hold back tears, Grant explained that Hosein’s parents who have been living abroad for many years owned the property. Due to family disputes, Grant claimed they are being forced to leave.
Grant said: “I have been taking care of this property for over 16 years. I paid about $15,000 to clear up a water rate bill. We came here to live about eight years ago. Last year, the water was disconnected. To get electricity, I need to get signed documents from the owners and this is not happening.”
Last November, someone tried to burn down their home at about 5 am while the family was asleep.
The person firebombed the front of the house previously used as a fruit and vegetable stall. No one was injured but the family lost two parakeets in the blaze.
Owing to repetitive flooding over the years, the family has been faced with “stress and more stress.”
The family, Grant said, was still coping with losses incurred in major floods back in 2008 and again in 2017 which damaged their home.
The exterior of the house is painted in bright colours. But the inside paints a gloomy picture of a family surviving with very little.
The couple’s bed is made of wood pallets placed on top of beer cases. There was also an old wardrobe with missing draws and visible water-soaked stains. This furniture was elevated on a pallet to mitigate the effects of floods.
In the centre of the living room was a pot with pawpaw leaves. This is used to get rid of mosquitos at night.
Hosein recalled she applied to the NHA – now called as the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) – for a home when she was 18. She later went abroad to live.
She returned and in 2003, officials told her to reapply which she did with Grant.
The mother of two is worried about her children’s future and is hoping to give them a better life.
“They often ask me, ‘Mama when are we getting water and lights?’ We could only use the generator for a few hours so most of the time, we are in the dark. We keep getting the run-around with everyone,” Hosein said, adding she was born and grew up on the property.
She recalled that staff from the Social Welfare Office gave her a letter to take to an HDC officer explaining their problems.
Asked about the status of their HDC application, Hosein said: “Every time we go, we cannot sit down and talk to anyone about our situation. The person who they say is handling the case went on maternity leave.”
Over the years, the family also lost two cars and faced extensive damage to the property and household items.
“To get through with (the National Commission for) Self Help, we needed signatures from the owners. We have been getting the run-around with everybody. We are living by God’s grace. We need a comfortable place.”
Anyone wanting to assist Anthony Grant and his family can contact him at 386-1403.