Robinson-Regis: No trend of gangs taking over HDC apartments

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Montgomery Guy chairman of POSSCL, Adrian Leonce Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Camille Robinson-Regis Minister of Housing and Urban Development and Hillian Morean chairman of EPOSDCL pose for a photo with Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in hand at the the MOU signing cermony at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, South Quay, Port of Spain on May 15 – Photo by Enrique Rupert

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis said the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has been going door-to-door to ensure that legal tenants are in possession of their apartments.

This comes as there have been reports of gangs taking over HDC apartment complexes and removing legal tenants.

Newsday asked Robinson-Regis about the development at a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony between the Port of Spain Shopping Complex Ltd (POSSCL) and East Port of Spain Development Co Ltd (EPOSDCL) on May 15 at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, South Quay, Port of Spain.

She said, “That has not been very prevalent. There have been instances of that and in that case, the police got involved.”

She said HDC did evictions in those cases and the illegal tenants were removed and reported to the police.

When Newsday asked if there were any specific areas or examples of where it has been done.

Robinson-Regis said, “That has been done in several of our areas, no area has been specific and we have done it in all the areas that HDC has landlord responsibility.

“It has not been prevalent, but where it has occurred we have evicted.”

On May 8, HDC launched the final instalment in the More Ways To Pay initiative, which gives HDC tenants more opportunities to pay their dues and their debt, which Robinson-Regis said has been “very successful.”

“Over 5,000 people have registered and started using the app.

“With regards to payments, we have been able to collect over $9 million since we have started the cash collection drive.”

In 2021, then-line minister Pennelope Beckles said $130 million was owed to HDC.

Newsday asked Robinson-Regis if she had the figure of the debt owed to HDC, but said she did not have the figure on hand.

Newsday tried to contact Jayselle McFarlane, the managing director of HDC, but two phone calls and a WhatsApp message went unanswered.

The MOU, which sees the POSSCL provide six retail mall spaces to entrepreneurs at New City Mall for two years with an option of extending the opportunity to beneficiaries for an additional year.

Robinson-Regis said, “This will ensure sustained support for entrepreneurial endeavours.”

Additionally, the POSSCL will waive rent charges for the initial three months of operations.

There will also be training sessions aimed at enhancing the skills of these entrepreneurs to not only be self-sustainable but profitable.

After the MOU signing ceremony, another mini-ceremony was held.

The five young men from Laventille and Morvant, who were hailed as heroes by their community after working together to rescue two men trapped inside an overturned car on April 21, were all given tokens of appreciation.

Kabir Bernard, Jelani Rousseau, Tyrique Barrow, Tishaan Charles and Joel Frank were met by Robinson-Regis, EPOSDCL chairman Hillian Morean, POSSCL chairman Montgomery Guy and Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce.

In a press release sent on May 15, HDC said, “EPOS also recruited those (of the five boys) who were not in school or employed to enrol in the various training programmes offered by the company. We look forward to working with the young men to get them trained, certified and employable.”