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Wallerfield families receive starter houses from LSA


The Archibald family stand proudly at the front entrance to their new home at Jacob Hill Settlement, Wallerfield after receiving the keys on Sunday. – ROGER JACOB

Twelve families in the Jacob Hill Settlement in Wallerfield received keys to starter-home units on Sunday.

Land Settlement Agency chairman Wayne Innis said nine of the 12 keys for the units in the development were given to women.

He was speaking at the key-distribution ceremony. He said the Jacob Hill site is one of the designated settlement areas under the LSA’s listing.

“In 2018, the LSA surveyed the area and identified 35 structures on the eastern portion of the site. From the survey results, it was determined that these occupants were living in poor conditions and without basic amenities such as pipe-borne water, electricity, and sanitation facilities.

“Consequently, the LSA began infrastructural development work to improve living conditions but it was determined that in order to do this properly, 12 households had to be relocated. Selection of these households for a starter home was done through a random draw. The two-bedroom, one bathroom, units were constructed through the LSA’s Housing and Village Improvement Programme (HVIP) model at an estimated cost of $142,000.”

Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Adrian Leonce said the LSA was doing tremendous work as the statutory agency in charge of the regularisation of squatting. He commended the staff at the agency.

Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings, Tunapuna Piarco Regional Corporation chairman Kwasi Robinson, Minister in the Ministry of Housing Adrian Leonce, Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, LSA chairman Wayne Innis, LSA CEO Hazar Hosein with the12 receipients of starter homes at Jacob Hill Settlement, Wallerfield on Sunday. – ROGER JACOB

“It brings much-needed relief to the poorest and most vulnerable people in the society. The LSA is performing upgrades on 14 sites, yielding close to 4,000 lots. They’re working to secure pre-construction statutory approvals on ten sites yielding 2,148 lots. They’re conducting infrastructural work on 12 sites, yielding 1,263 lots, and doing the land use planning on 13 sites.

“Our innovative HVIP, implemented through the LSA, continues to improve infrastructure and poor-quality housing in targeted villages, including Matura, Valencia, Cumuto, Talparo, and now here in Wallerfield.”

Leonce said the allocation for the project had been increased in the 2023 budget.

La Horquetta/Talparo MP Foster Cummings said when he did his initial walkabout in the community, it burned his heart to see the conditions people were living in. He thanked his ministerial colleagues and the LSA for helping the recipients receive their starter homes.

“The LSA came in and assessed the situation and that entire community was approved by Cabinet to receive this type of development. The first phase is that we have built these houses to relocate those who have to come to this location, the second phase is that those who have to remain at that location will receive a housing unit like this courtesy of the government. We also intend to construct a community centre at that location for the benefit of the residents of Jacob Hill and Wallerfield. This project has already been sent to tender.”

Some of the starter homes at Jacob Hill Settlement in Wallerfield. – ROGER JACOB

He said similar projects under the HVIP will be pursued throughout the country.

Housing and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said the recipients were being relocated from the Jacob Hill recreation ground which is required for public purpose.

“A total of 35 residential lots were developed on this Wallerfield East site, including the 12 lots on which the starter homes were constructed. We therefore have another 23 families who are also benefiting from fully-developed lots on this site.”

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She said it gave her great joy and job satisfaction to see the project had been brought to fruition. Robinson-Regis said the infrastructural development works on the lots included drainage works (construction of concrete box drains and detention ponds) and road works, at an estimated $6 million.

“When the LSA conducted its comprehensive social survey of state lands, 30 structures on the Jacob Hill Playground were identified as single-family residential structures. It was further determined that the quality of the houses in the area provided insufficient shelter. Eighty-nine per cent of the households were assessed as offering poor living conditions. In addition, an estimated 52 per cent of the structures were categorised as shacks, lacking basic amenities such as access to pipe-borne water and sanitation facilities. The survey results also highlighted that only 15 per cent of the households had approved electricity connections.”

Robinson-Regis said having a home enabled families to stay together, and ensured children and adults had a safe, stable place to return to and learn in.

The recipients said they were grateful for the housing units and would be moving in as soon as possible.

Aveela Archibald said she was holding back tears and didn’t have words to express how she felt upon receiving her key.

“We’re feeling joy in our hearts because this is a start for us and the family from where we came from. I have seven children, and this is such a great start. I thank Foster Cummings for what he did for this community.”

Michael Abraham, Archibald’s fiance, said he was grateful to have a roof over his head that he could call home for his family.

“I want to thank all the people who played a part in this. I came from nothing, I have a big family, we went through the world.

“We took a chance where we were by the recreation ground that we could call home, because you can only stay so long by family and friends, and it was risky, and we want to thank God for making this happen.”