The Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) is collaborating with a number of agencies, to ensure that those residents squatting at Broad and Lombard Streets are reintegrated into a wholesome community.
Agencies involved in the process include the Ministries of Public Health, Education, Social Protection, Cohesion, Public Security, Communities and Agriculture, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), including Help and Shelter and Child Link.
During a press briefing on Monday, Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams Patterson-Yearwood explained that, following extensive consultations, the CH&PA has reached an agreement with the Mocha/Arcadia Neighbourhood Democratic Council, (NDC), on the relocation of the squatters to an area located aback of the community.
Earlier in the year, the CHPA announced that it will be collaborating with Food For The Poor to construct houses for the 49 families squatting on Lombard Street. This will cost the government $43M, with organisation matching that amount.
The Mocha residents had objected to this move, noting that they were not consulted on the matter. They were also concerned that the relocation will add to the social ills that already exist in their community. Some even claimed that the lands were ancestral lands and belonged to the people of Mocha.
According to Minister Patterson-Yearwood, the CHPA realised that it erred, and apologised to both the NDC and the people of Mocha for not consulting them. She, however, explained that the residents of Lombard Street were in a desperate situation. The squatters are being forced to move as a result of a court action filed by the rightful owners of the property and, “the government cannot stand by and watch those families be thrown out on the streets,” Minister Patterson-Yearwood said.
“These people are Guyanese, they deserve to benefit from the good life, they deserve safe housing. Mocha was not selected for any particular reason, the land was there and it was much easier for the CH&PA to develop,” Minister Patterson-Yearwood pointed out.
The area comprises approximately 23 acres of land and can accommodate up to 184 house lots. Of the 75 houses that will be built by CH&PA and Food For The Poor, 15 will be provided to less fortunate families of Mocha. Other residents will be given priority to occupy the remaining lots.
Minister Patterson-Yearwood said that she is hopeful residents will adopt the name ‘Prosperity’ for the new area since the government is seeking to upgrade the lives of the squatters. The construction of the houses is expected to start soon.
The CH&PA is also looking to address roads, drainage, and bridges among other infrastructural issues, in the areas being developed for the squatters, as well as the entire Mocha/Arcadia community.