Every time rain falls, Quisha James and her family shudder in fear.
The Guaracara River has burrowed under the foundation of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment complex in which they live at Harmony Hall, Gasparillo, causing the entire building to become structurally unsafe.
So bad was the damage, that the HDC was forced to condemn the building in 2016, relocating more than 16 families.
However, the HDC failed to relocate the James family and another tenant.
Speaking to Guardian Media, James said she was fed up of staying in a condemned building which could collapse one day.
She added, “I feel unsafe for my kids. I don’t think we should be made to stay here any longer. I cannot have a shower. I cannot open my pipe for water. I have to tote water for cooking, washing, anything. It is quite unfair.”
She said earlier this year the HDC evicted 20 squatters from the buildings saying they could not allow anyone to stay in the condemned apartment buildings, but imagine we are paying tenants and they leave us in here,” she said.
She explained that the river sometimes rises more than 25 feet and with each rainfall, the building moves.
James’ husband Wayne Hagley said he wanted to fix the apartment but this did not make any sense because of the structural defects.
“We went to HDC many times for relocation but they never relocate us. When we ask them to fix the apartment, they said they do not do repairs on a condemned building,” Hagley said.
Showing off a pile of HDC receipts, Hagley said, “I am paying my money you know. All my payments were made. It is not like I am not paying. But then they decide that they not telling us nothing about relocation so last year October I say I am going to stop paying because I cannot be paying rent to stay in a condemned building.”
He added, “I can’t be paying money to stay in a place and I getting wet.”
On Saturday, the HDC issued a letter to the tenants indicating that they were in arrears. The letter issued by the Acting Manager of Recoveries stated that the remnants had 14 days to liquidate their arrears or contact the Corporation to make arrangements for payments. They were advised that failure to do so will result in the HDC taking “legal recovery action.”
Contacted for comment, Housing Minister Penelope Beckles said she will investigate the matter.
HDC’s corporate communications manager Dike Noel also said the matter will be investigated and HDC will revert with a response.