Legal action has been taken by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) to repossess four core houses at Bath, West Coast Berbice because their intended occupants have not occupied them.
This was disclosed by the CH&PA in a press release on Friday responding to `The World Beyond Georgetown’ feature in the September 15 edition of the Sunday Stabroek on Bath Settlement. The CH&PA says it intends to re-allocate these lots in Block D Bath Phase 1 to other eligible applicants to the Core House Pilot.
Under the Core House Pilot, which is part of the Low Income Settlement Programme, the CH&PA supplies the starter unit which is outfitted with a multipurpose sink, a toilet and bath area and septic tanks with plumbing and electrical fittings. The houses are built with concrete and timber walls which will lend to further housing expansion.
In the September 15 feature, the Sunday Stabroek reported that there were 16 core houses in the area and that residents had reported that only about seven of them were really occupied and that some of the houses were even rented out.
The CH&PA release said that the “Authority wishes to clarify, first of all, that the CHPA is aware that 12 of the 16 houses are occupied by the beneficiaries of the Core House Pilot. The CHPA conducts regular checks with regard to occupancy of the Core Houses in Bath, as well as all other housing developments, where core houses have been constructed and handed over to beneficiary households.”
It went on to say that In the case of Block D Bath Phase 1, the Authority’s investigations showed that four of an initial six families were still not occupying their core homes. The release disclosed that the CH&PA had issued several letters beginning in 2011 calling on the defaulting beneficiaries to occupy these homes in line with the agreement signed between them and the CH&PA. Further, the release said that the CH&PA earlier this year commenced legal action against the beneficiaries of the four homes that remain unoccupied with a view to repossessing the houses and the lots on which these buildings have been erected and reassigning them to eligible applicants in the Core House Pilot.
The CH&PA cited another part of the feature which stated that “In another section of the scheme that was later developed, residents, especially vehicle owners, (decried) the deplorable condition of the road, which is still to be pitched…” The CH&PA said that it wished to clarify again that the Authority’s approach in developing housing areas is to first install a fair weather road and then upgrade this to a paved surface provided that 75% of the persons allocated house lots in the area have built houses and have occupied them.
The CH&PA added that it wished to “emphatically register its disappointment that, Stabroek News did not seek clarification from the Authority prior to having this article published. Had all relevant stakeholders been consulted, such a flawed report would not have been offered for public consumption.”
In a response to the CH&PA statement, Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud said that if the newspaper had waited on a reply from the housing authority the feature may never have been carried. He pointed out that the CH&PA press release was issued almost three weeks following the publication of the feature. He added that the CH&PA is notorious for not responding to queries from the independent media. He said it provides information primarily through the Government Information Agency and the occasional press release. Persaud said he was heartened at the apparent willingness now by the CH&PA to address media queries and that Stabroek News would follow up on this.
As it relates to the feature, Persaud said he disagreed that it was flawed. He said the reporter had been provided with information by residents who lived in proximity to the core houses and who at that time would have had a better idea than the CH&PA of how many of them were really occupied.