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Evicted mother of 6 can’t find place to rent

News day / Lewis is the head of one of the 25 families who were evicted from an HDC building complex in Harmony Hall, Gasparillo on Monday.

The buildings were deemed unfit for human habitation in 2012, and after its lawful inhabitants were relocated within the two years after, several families moved in and set up illegal electricity and water lines.

On Friday, Housing Minister Randall Mitchell said the eviction of the families was not an act of heartlessness but one of law enforcement. Still, he said, the Ministry of Social Development offered counselling, food cards and rental grants for a period of six months to the families.

Lewis confirmed to Sunday Newsday yesterday that ministry officials did visit the families during the week.

On Friday, officials took their contact information and promised to reach out to them again tomorrow.

Lewis was offered a rental grant of $1,500 a month for up to a year, but has been unable to find a landlord willing to accept her and her six children.

“What I did was illegal, I know, but I did not have any choice. If I could have paid for an apartment for my six children, I would not have chosen to be here.” Lewis said her husband of ten years walked out on her and their six children three years ago. She has only seen him twice since then.

As such, she has had to care for her six children alone while juggling her job as a telephone operator for KFC in Marabella and pursuing a degree at the University of the West Indies.

Now, she is trying to get her heavy-T licence to upgrade her skill set.

“I work hard to take care of my kids. I do not go around and beg.

I do not prostitute myself or my children.

All I need is a place to stay.” Lewis only moved in to the HDC buildings last December.

She was renting an apartment in Marabella but left because sewage often flooded the yard and her toilet would sometimes be filled with sewage from the apartment above her own.

But with her salary, it is either she accepts apartments of this quality which are unsafe for her growing children or stay on the streets, as apartments she can actually afford are not willing to accept her with six children.

Like many of the other families, Lewis and her children whose ages range from three years to 14 years have been sleeping under the staircase of one of the buildings to shelter from the rain. Others sleep in cars and in trucks. Others have left the streets to stay with family members and friends.

Gabriel Phillip, a father of one whose family was also evicted on Monday, said, “We are all willing to accept whatever assistance anybody is offering, but this woman and other women with children like her needs immediate attention.

Like yesterday they needed it.

But what this whole ordeal has shown me is that in this society, when people see you on the ground, instead of helping you up, they does kick you.”

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