Homeless protestors lash out at council over housing issues

2018-04-17 06:02
United Homeless People Development Association members held a placard demonstration at subcouncil 18 yesterday.

United Homeless People Development Association members held a placard demonstration at subcouncil 18 yesterday.

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The United Homeless People Development Association marched to the subcouncil 18 offices yesterday (Monday) demanding answers to their housing problems­.

The group wants a piece of land near Crestway High School in Retreat to be used for housing. Most of them are backyard dwellers who say they have to deal with increases they cannot afford in rent, water and electricity. They have to pay exorbitant prices for a roof over their heads

The association held a placard demonstration in front of the subcouncil offices saying they have waited long enough and want to see development so they can get houses. Adding salt to their wounds, they arrived at the subcouncil offices only to be told that the meeting had been cancelled because the official in charge of their case was on maternity leave.

The cancellation left the association members fuming. The association’ chairpeson, Howard Soetwater says the disappointed residents feel they have no choice but to illegally occupy a nearby piece of land to get attention.

“We are very upset and the members are also not happy with what happened. They never communicated anything to us, only when we got to the subcouncil [offices] were we told there is no meeting. We are left with no option but to occupy another piece of land, then they will be forced to listen to us. When you do things by the book they send you from pillar to post, but if you occupy land illegally they are quick to react. People took the day off and used their money to come here but we are not getting anything tangible, so we will be intensifying our efforts until they listen to us,” he says.

Soetwater adds that the City is supplying water and electricity for some backyarders. “This is not a solution at all. It’s just a waste of money. This just allows landlords to push up rent and it is not helping our people at all. We want houses so we won’t pay so much.”

Taking part in the march was a mother of two, Lechane Kearns. She says: “Most people have been on the housing waiting list for a very long time and still have no hope of getting houses. I’m on the waiting list and I’m a backyard dweller. We can’t afford it anymore. I want my own house and it will make things better for me and my family. If my landlord decides to hike my water and electricity there is nothing I can do. This adds to the rent that goes up now and again. We can’t afford it. They have to tell us now the way forward – we need houses,” she says.

The group says an official from the subcouncil came to address them and only said the meeting had been cancelled due to the official handling their case being unavailable. Subcouncil manager Fred Monk was unable to comment by the time of going to print.

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