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Mudd residents unsure where they would relocate to

Homes in the Mudd shantytown in Abaco. According to a shantytown report compiled under the Christie administration in 2013, the Mudd and Pigeon Peas had 900 homes, and Sandbanks had over 100. PHOTOS: FILE

Some residents of the shantytown known as the Mudd in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, said yesterday that they don’t know where they would live when the government moves to destroy the community.

The Minnis administration has established a shantytown task force, which aims to eradicate shantytowns throughout the country. The Guardian understands the government will give residents of the Mudd until July 2019 to find other accommodations.

The Guardian visited the Mudd yesterday and spoke with people in that community. Dozens of residents were moving about as a light shower fell over hundreds of makeshift, multicolored homes, derelict cars and piles of trash littering the area.

Tellis Doetelen, along with several other men, was sitting under a tree seeking shelter from the rain. He has lived in the Mudd for seven years. The 63-year-old said he built a shack in the area and has no idea where he will live if the government destroys the community.

“I built that little home because I can’t pay no rent,” he said. “Tear it down, but I don’t know where I would go. I do not know because I don’t have no money.”

Doetelen has had a work permit for 25 years, he said, and he has paid his National Insurance Board contributions throughout that time.

The Mudd and Pigeon Peas, a smaller shantytown located next to the Mudd, have a long and storied history. The communities, which consist of hundreds of makeshift homes, have no legal electricity, water or sewerage connections.

Ed Newell, a broker based in Abaco, told The Guardian earlier this year that if you drive by the area at night, it’s “lit up”.

There are small food stores, clothing stores, barber shops and apartments in the areas. Reportedly, it costs $60 a week to rent a one-room dwelling.

A generator near the entrance of the Mudd shantytown.

Near the entrance to the community is a generator. Dozens of wires snake out of each unit, which is enclosed by a makeshift wooden wall.

A government official said that the unit powers 400 to 500 homes and added that there are at least three to five more generator units located throughout the community.

Jacque, another resident of the community, said he has lived in the Mudd for 27 years. He said there is nothing he can do about the government’s plan.

“I could find someplace to live,” he said.

Anthony Jeremy, a resident of the Mudd for three years, wonders how people would survive.

“If they are going to tear it down, what happens to the people that live here longer than I do and who have children who [were] born here and [are] living here?” he asked.

“What they going to do with them?”

Jeremy, a carpenter, has lived in Miami and Haiti. For now, he lives in a small, blue home in the Mudd.

“I live here by myself,” he said. “My family is in Miami.”

Asked what he would do if the government destroys the Mudd, Jeremy said, “I really don’t know yet.

“If they are going to break them down are they going to give us somewhere to go?”

Another woman, who did not wish to be named, said she has nowhere to go.

“I don’t know where I would go,” she said outside her home.

She asked if the government intends to provide housing for the residents.

Maxine Duncombe, senior deputy Family Island administrator for the Department of Local Government for Central Abaco, said many Abaconians are concerned about the health and safety issues of the shantytowns on the island.

“That is a real concern,” she said.

“We have to look at the way that we structure our homes.

“If homes are not built up to code, then the government is, at this point, taking the necessary steps to ensure that any home that is not built up to standard, that those homes would be eliminated, for lack of a better term.”



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