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Fairness in Housing Allocation
Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

Tribute must be paid to the Newsday for assessing Minister Rowley's electoral security-motivated, housing, free-for-all from the perspective of fairness in its editorial (22 December, p.10).

Trini-center browsers will also recall that The Principles of Fairness Committee headed by Ken Gordon called for the removal of discrimination in public housing allocation. Readers will also remember the call made by the Hon. Dr. Fuad Khan (MP for San Juan/ Barataria) for His Excellency The President to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the use of PNM political affiliation as a criterion not only for allocation of houses by the HDC but also for determining the location of several current housing sites (Express 26 September p.15; Guardian 26 September, p. 11; Mirror 30 September, p. 12).

Dr. Khan charged that the NHA: "…was engaged in a direct effort that seeks to influence the outcome of future elections by distributing houses to bona fide supporters of the ruling party as opposed to a free and fair system".

Senator Parvatee- Anmolsingh during her contribution in the debate on the HDC Bill called for Government to be more culturally sensitive in the provision of public housing (Bomb 9 September, p.13). That is to say that the Indian community had special housing cultural and religious needs that must be factored into the designs of public housing if Indians are to be included as they must.

Today several constituencies that were marginal seats in the 2002 elections are now no longer through the devious instrumentality of Rowley's voter padding housing schemes. These include the Ramgoolie Development, the Green Street (Tunapuna), The Caura Development etc. These schemes also aggravate traffic congestion in already congested areas. But such schemes will be located far away from Rowley's Landdate Housing Development in Tobago.

The HDC's records in fact would reveal that of the 28 sites for the building of 8638 units in the 2006/07 programme only 3 are sited in the vicinity of existing Indian settlements and the type of houses to be built would virtually exclude Indians from applying. Fifteen are located in marginal constituencies. The records will also show a glaring absence of Indian names among the defaulting tenants/home-owners.

So that when Rowley's HDC's PR boasts of "building homes, building communities and building a nation" that nation HDC- style excludes 42% of the population of T&T.

It is more like dividing the Nation using public housing programmes to achieve electoral security objectives and to leave large amounts of citizens without adequate shelter. The HDC Settlement in Federation Park will leave many current homeowners vulnerable to decreased property values and burglars and bandits.

Then we wonder at ethnic polarisation and call for over-night unity. No unity, whatever that means, can be realised in plural T&T unless and until the Indians in this country are made to feel and do in fact feel to be part of the cosmopolitan mosaic and enjoy real equality and are included in relevant aspects of national life.
That is what genuine fairness is all about.

I hope that you all are having a joyful and absorbing Yuletide Season.

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