Report: Most undocumented shantytown residents live in The Mudd, Pigeon Peas

Of the 153 undocumented residents in Abaco shantytowns, 69.9 percent of those individuals reside in either The Mudd or Pigeon Peas in South Abaco, according to a recent survey of shantytowns.

The preliminary Abaco Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, released yesterday, shows that 3,041 people reside in six shantytowns on Abaco, inclusive of Sand Banks, Farm Road, L & H (Treasure Cay), The Mudd, Pigeon Peas and Elbow Cay.

The study surveyed 777 households and indicated that The Mudd is the most densely populated shantytown with 51.4 percent of the population, followed by Pigeon Peas with 19 percent and then Farm Road with 15. 2 percent.

Of those residents, 16 percent are Bahamian citizens, 17 percent are permanent residents, 41 percent have work permits, four percent have spousal permits and 20 percent are undocumented.

The report noted that approximately two percent of respondents did not want to disclose their legal status.

This compares to six percent of residents in shantytowns in New Providence who were recorded as undocumented in the New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, 2018, released in May.

The latest report indicated that, “with the exception of work permit status, no statistically significant variations manifested when analyzing legal status by sex”.

The report goes on to note that of the 777 heads of households interviewed, 132 people reported to be self-employed, 434 worked for an employer and 203 were unemployed.

Of those who had not engaged in any work for the proceeding six months, 102 were seeking work.

Four people did not state their employment status.

The report noted the unemployment rate among household respondents was 15.3 percent.

“Looking at unemployment through the spotlight of legal status reveals that undocumented respondents comprise the largest share of the unemployed,” the report said.

“Of note, all household respondents who were not currently employed, but who sought work, had received a job offer within the four weeks preceding the assessment.

“Indication was also made of whether or not other household occupants, other than themselves, were employed.

“As an aggregate, 45.3 percent of shantytown households only have one person in the household currently working.

“Taking into account both formal and informal employment and all working occupants, 61.7 percent of households report total weekly income of under $400.”

Fifty-two percent of respondents have lived in a shantytown for at least one year and eight percent have resided in a shantytown for less than one month, according to the report.

The government set a deadline of July 31, 2019 for residents of the Abaco shantytowns to evacuate.

An injunction was filed in August by the lawyers of New Providence shantytown residents, preventing the demolition of shantytowns on New Providence after they were given until August 10 to evacuate their homes.

The lawyers for the residents said they might have to seek an injunction to block the government’s actions with respect to shantytowns on Family Islands.

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Sloan Smith

Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas. Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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