Three weeks after a fire ravaged their Rookery Nook, Maraval home and claimed the lives of three of their loved ones, the remaining members of the Burke family have a new place to call home.
Janelle Rodriguez was handed the keys to a Vieux Fort Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment in St James yesterday morning.
“I want to say thanks for the great support. Thanks for the prayers. I also want to thank Donna Cox, Keith Scotland and Pennelope Beckles for coming out today and blessing us with this wonderful home—somewhere to rest our heads, so that we can go on with our family,” Rodriguez said at her new home.
She was accompanied by her two daughters, who escaped the burning building which trapped their other siblings.
While Rodriguez expressed her gratitude to the Government for their support, she said she was concerned about how donations to the Burke family’s website were being handled by someone known to her family.
She claimed the administrator of the donation drive was making strange decisions and she wanted answers.
“We are still waiting for the funds that came into this account. We haven’t received anything. We don’t know what is taking place. As far as I know, the fund was rudely and willingly taken over,” Rodriguez claimed.
“I will like some sort of action to be taken into this to know exactly what is going on because they are doing as they please with this and the children are in need of this.”
As part of the emergency housing arrangement, the family’s first six months of rent are already paid for.
“The Ministry of Social Development is paying the first three months and the Ministry of Housing, the second three. So, we give them a six months cushion to be able to catch themselves,” said Housing Minister Beckles.
During the presentation, however, Port-of-Spain South MP Keith Scotland pledged that he would cover another three months of rent, taking the total coverage to nine months.
Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox said her ministry will continue to assist the family.
She assured reporters that the new apartment is safe and comfortable.
“I received a lot of calls from business persons, members of the community, who were very concerned about this situation about the fire and I must say that a lot of them have stepped forward,” Cox said.
“We will do an assessment and Miss Rodriguez will be able to apply for grants for furniture immediately – immediate appliances for this apartment. We also, through our Family Services Division, would be providing counselling for her and her entire family.”
On the morning of July 26, 2021, a fire gutted the Burke family home in Maraval. Three family members died—Ezekiel Burke, 17, Faith Burke, 6, and Kayden Burke, 3.
They were laid to rest at a funeral service in Morvant on August 6.