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Tuesday 20 August 2019
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‘Savannah’ couple settles in at Charford Court, but wife’s wish: I want my own home

I good: Amputee Erica Joseph is grateful yesterday for the apartment she and her husband now have at Charford Court, Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain after living under a tent at Queen’s Park Savannah recently. Photo by Roger Jacob
I good: Amputee Erica Joseph is grateful yesterday for the apartment she and her husband now have at Charford Court, Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain after living under a tent at Queen’s Park Savannah recently. Photo by Roger Jacob

“Over my dead body.”

This was Erica Joseph’s defiant stance yesterday as she dismissed any possibility of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) removing her and husband Wendell from their apartment at Charford Court, Port-of-Spain.

“My only goal now is to save and get my own house. I have fought my last fight. I am no longer in the war zone,” the feisty double amputee told Sunday Newsday in an interview at her new home.

After having lived illegally under a tent for about a month on the Queen’s Park Savannah, opposite to the exit from President’s House, the Josephs were on Friday given living accomodation at the East Port-of-Spain apartment building, courtesy the HDC. The couple has lived in seven HDC homes in the past two decades.

Erica, 57, said she was extremely grateful the corporation heeded their call for assistance.

“What they should have done from day one, this would not have called for. They did not do the right thing.. Now they do the right thing. Now I comfortable,” she said.

Erica recalled the couple’s trials of having to move from several HDC apartments over the years.

“I tell HDC, ‘Anytime allyuh come, allyuh does wait till we settle and fix up, then allyuh does come to say allyuh breaking down and have to relocate we. But this time, allyuh breaking it down with me in it. I am not moving,” she declared, borrowing a line from former politician Hulsie Bhaggan, who once famously stated the same words.

The apartment, though, situated on the ground floor of the complex, is still being modified to facilitate Erica’s disability.

Yesterday, HDC employees worked tirelessly to get the apartment wheelchair- ready as Erica waited on her bed in another room for her husband, whom she said, went to nearby Charlotte Street to get some cleaning utensils.

She said despite the inconvenience, she was happy to be at the apartment.

“I have no problems. The workmen still working here. So I have no problem with them. Let them fix it for the wheelchair for me and I good. I eh go have no complaints.”

Asked what the couple’s ordeal has taught her, Erica said many citizen’s complaints are falling on deaf ears.

“When you go to the authorities with a problem and a complaint, they don’t want to hear you. They telling you ‘Do what you want.’”

“HDC did not want to hear me. So, what they wanted me to do, not go to the President because he represents the disabled association. He said the disabled must come out and show their disgust with the public. He said it, not me.”

She added: “So I was satisfied with the fight that we fight. All who jam blast we and tell we what we doing had more than this. It had nothing more than this except looking for a ground floor for my wheelchair. All I want is to get from Point A to Point B.”

Wendell, 64, later told Sunday Newsday: “I just hope it doh continue the way it was going all the time.

“Now that we come here now and trying to settle ourselves once again because we have been unsettled for years. I hope to God that everything go good.” Wendell said they were not “bad payers of rent.”

“We does pay our rent. We have no problem with that. But right now, I am just hoping that everything go good.”

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