New home for Baby Jeffers
A Barrouallie woman who for years depended on the kindness of others for a place to lay her head, now has a place to call her own.
On Wednesday, December 23, two days before Christmas, Baby Jeffers received the keys to her own house, compliments the government’s no-income housing program and the ‘Lives to Live’ initiative.
The Housing and Land Development Corporation (HLDC) administers the no-income housing programme which addresses the shelter needs of persons whose income is less than $700 a month and who have difficulty accessing credit to construct or to renovate their homes.
The programme, the first of its kind in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), was made possible by a grant of $9 million from the Government of the Republic of Venezuela a few years ago.
Jeffers is one of the dozens of Vincentians who have so far benefitted from the programme.
The keys to the house, located in Glebe Hill, were handed over by parliamentary representative for Central Leeward Orando Brewster in the presence of former area representative Sir Louis Straker, deputy prime minister Montgomery Daniel and former minister of social development Frederick Stephenson among others.
Brewster is also Minister of National Mobilization, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Human Settlement, Youth and Housing.
He noted that Sir Louis was instrumental in helping Jeffers become a home owner as the former parliamentary rep was told about her situation and committed himself to helping her.
“This is a happy day for me. I may be happier than Baby Jeffers would be,” Sir Louis told the gathering while adding that around 2015, persons brought her situation to his attention.
“She was practically a vagrant. Going from place to place and possibly a nuisance to those who would probably give her a little rest here now and again,” Straker said.
He added that helping Jeffers was a big undertaking as the land on which the house is built belonged to her parents, whom she cared for, but she was chased from the land by her brother.
“He wanted the whole piece of land and nothing for Baby. Just leave Baby on the street. I thought by having a former assistant commissioner of police, retired, that we would be able to get over the hurdle with him, but he chased him out of the yard with a cutlass,” explained Sir Louis.
The former politician said he approached minister Daniel and told him that the community was expressing concerns about Baby’s situation and Daniel divided the land using the proper legal provisions.
“But when we were ready to start we had a problem again with the cutlass and the man,” Sir Louis said while adding that the situation was eventually resolved.
“We had to pay for the land here and pay for the deed because Baby couldn’t afford it,” Sir Louis said while adding that he does now know how any man could sleep comfortably knowing their fellowman is not comfortable.
He said he could not get the house built during his tenure but minister Brewster shared the same passion to get Baby into her own home.
Sir Louis said after the house was built, on Wednesday December 22, “the cutlass man” turned back workers from St Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC) and told them they could not connect electricity at the property.
He said they had to provide the deed to VINLEC and the electricity was connected.
“We said we did not want Baby to spend another day outside of her home,” Sir Louis stressed while adding that the no-income home is a great initiative that helps needy Vincentians.
The house was furnished with the help of Brewster, Sir Louis, and some of Jeffers’s relatives. The home has an indoor flush toilet and shower, television, a bed, radio, refrigerator, stove, and running water among other amenities.
Minister Daniel commented that he is happy that Jeffers is the recipient of a home. He said he is always touched to see the end product of the workings of the ministry of housing.
Daniel said the Lives to Live programme was established in 2015 and since then, the ministry has been able to put together 278 structures. Twenty-four units were built in 2020 and this is one of them.
Brewster said Jeffers has gone through a lot and she can now rest comfortably. He said the project was the combined effort of many persons amidst the many problems.
The politician noted that the ‘Lives to Live’ programme is helping other persons in the area with bathrooms and other amenities as the government continues to push to help the less fortunate and marginalized persons in communities.
Jeffers said she felt “good” and she would like to thank everyone who helped her get a home. Her grand-daughter Jana will be sharing the house with her.