Fifth Company Village in Moruga will be the first community to benefit from the Housing Ministry’s Housing and Village Improvement Programme (HVIP). The criteria for selection includes level of unemployment, state of infrastructure, per capita income and the number of people living below the poverty line.
Appearing before Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) last Wednesday, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary (PS) Simone Thorne-Mora Quinones explained how HVIP works and why Fifth Company was chosen.
“The ministry will introduce the HVIP as part of an affordable and high quality housing initiative which will ultimately preserve the country’s existing housing stock. Thus reducing the demand for government-subsidised houses.
(Through) HVIP, disadvantaged rural and peri-urban villages can access housing grants and improved infrastructure...We are now in the selection stage of the project.
The (first) area that has been earmarked is Fifth Company Village in Moruga.”
The PS explained that, “After Tropical Storm Bret, the majority of...emergency shelter grant...applications came from Moruga.
When we visited the area to ascertain that the applicants were really in need, we observed the real dire situation that existed in that area (Fifth Company).
That’s one of the reasons why a decision was taken to start with Moruga.”
Another contributing factor, the PAAC learned, is Fifth Company’s historical significance.
“It is the (home) of the descendants of the Merikins – African-American soldiers who fought for Britain in the War of 1812.
“After Britain lost the war, they had to find somewhere to put them and several groups were sent to Trinidad.
So you’re (also) trying to preserve your historical, cultural characteristics.”
The British granted 16 acres of land in south Trinidad to each soldier of the six companies or batches, as payment for services rendered in war. Hence the name Fifth Company Village.
Making mention of HVIP’s $5 million allocation, PAAC member Wade Mark asked if any other villages had been selected.
The PS said the ministry was “still looking” at other areas and that a final decision would be based on both information gathered by the Land Settlement Agency’s (LSA) social surveys of more than 300 sites and data from the Central Statistical Office.