Family of five crying out for new home

What used to be a chattel house at Mannings Land, Bank Hall, St Michael, is now a rat-infested, floorless, almost structureless inconvenience for a family that has nowhere else to go.

While part of the structure has fallen down, 66-yearold Orphana Alleyne, her daughter and three grandchildren are now living in part of the rotted house and a shed which she said leaks when the rain falls.

A tearful Alleyne yesterday said she was depending on Government to help her rebuild the house for the sake of her grandchildren aged nine to 17 years.

She said the family has been struggling to make ends meet since five years ago when she had to leave her job as a maid for a senior politician because she was deemed medically unfit.

Due to a medical condition, her daughter is also unable to work to support her children who are in school.

The grandmother said while the family’s main source of income was the monetary assistance they received from the Welfare Department on a monthly basis, they did not have the finances to build a new home.

“For years I have been going to everybody looking for help. I went to Urban [Development Commission], UDC, and they gave me the okay and said they are going to start helping me this year.

But I see January gone, February gone and the house is bending more and more.

Urban is telling me I have to find somewhere to rent so they can do the work. Where will I find a house to rent?”

She added: “You know what is holding that house from falling to the ground?

The branches from the five finger tree. But every day I am afraid that the house will fall down some more and then the electricity will burn the house with me and my grandchildren inside. When part of the house collapsed last year, it was 3 o’clock in the morning when everybody was sleeping.”

Sleepness nights

As the tears flowed, Alleyne said living under a shed

for the past nine years has been extremely challenging. She said whenever there is heavy rainfall, she spends sleepless nights using multiple buckets to catch water pouring into the shed from holes in the roof.

“I just want the opportunity to say I am comfortable with my daughter and my grandchildren because right now everything is ‘Gran gran this, gran gran that’. I am the one taking care of my family. Right now we are all living under a shed and it is hard for my grandchildren.

I cry but I don’t want my daughter to see me crying because she already has her [medical issue]. The condition we are living in is very bad.

Somebody will give me a plate of food but nobody will take me in. I have been living here for 32 years now; I am just asking for some help.”

Alleyne pointed out that she discussed her plight with Member of Parliament for St Michael West Chris Gibbs.

When contacted, Gibbs confirmed that while UDC agreed to rebuild a house, efforts were ongoing to find alternative living arrangements for the family while constructing a new structure.

“The lady has the agreement right there to replace the dwelling house, so this is not a case of my office being negligent at all.

This woman is a good woman, she has been through a lot, but she is going to get the help because Urban has already signed the agreement with her. My office has a relationship with her and I have personally been down there a few times to see the place and we connected her with Urban.

“Urban is on top of the situation. I know the situation is bad and we really need to work on it right away, but we are working on it.

The Government is aware and is working on it . . . . What I will do is I will ramp up my efforts with the family,” Gibbs said.(AH)

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