Foulkes: Govt won’t spend money to house residents from shantytowns
The government is not spending any money to assist residents of shantytowns move into regulated communities, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday.
Foulkes said there are false reports circulating that the government is spending money to rent homes for shantytown residents. The minister, who chairs the government’s Shantytown Action Task Force (SATF), originally made the comments in the Senate.
The Guardian spoke with him after the Senate.
“There is some misinformation out there,” he said. “I don’t want to call any names, but there is some stuff out there posted by PLP operatives insinuating that the government is spending money to rent homes for residents of the shantytowns. That is not true.
“There are a significant amount of Bahamian families that are attempting to get affordable homes. We have thousands of applicants in the Ministry of Housing. Our priority now is to find as many lots as possible so that we can make it easier for Bahamians to own a piece of the land and build their own homes.
“That is the government’s priority. I understand the frustration of Bahamians who would hear the misinformation that the government is paying rent for residents of shantytowns, but that is absolutely false.”
Foulkes said the SATF created a committee, the Alternative Housing Committee, which has identified many affordable rental units throughout New Providence for the shantytown residents.
“We have spoken to many landlords to make the process of moving from shantytowns into these rental units seamless,” he said.
He said some residents have already started to move out of the shantytowns.
“I don’t have the numbers, but I know that some of them have already started to move,” he said.
The SATF seeks to deal with the removal of shantytowns in The Bahamas.
When he addressed members of the Haitian community last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said there has been a “tremendous misunderstanding” of the government’s plan.
“We have been careful to address this issue in a comprehensive, careful and compassionate manner,” he said.
“Our aim is to improve the lives of all of those affected by what we are doing. We must live in The Bahamas as one people, with shared values and a shared commitment to a better future for all citizens and residents of The Bahamas. As we seek to build a better Bahamas, let us join hands and hearts in the spirit of solidarity.”
The government has said that it hopes to see “results” from that work by this summer.
According to the government’s New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, 1,410 people reside in those communities.
The report says 23 percent of the assessment forms did not capture the legal statuses of the heads of household interviewed as part of the survey.
For those whose legal statuses were captured, it was demonstrated that only a minority (six percent) were undocumented. However, there was no indication whether those who claim to be in The Bahamas legally showed actually proof of that.
The report shows that the Carmichael constituency has the largest representation (44 percent) of such households, followed by Golden Isles (31 percent) and then Elizabeth (25 percent).
The average shantytown household size is 3.3 people.
The report identifies 10 shantytowns: Montgomery Avenue, Allen Drive, Bellot Road, Golden Gates Road, Lazaretto Road, Cowpen Road (west), Bacardi Road (east), Bacardi Road (west), Lumumba Lane and an unidentified shantytown.
Education: College of The Bahamas, English
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