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Hope fades for Allison

Monday, December 18, 2017

With Christmas just a week away, the sliver of happiness Allison Dick felt at the prospect of her six children and grandchild not spending the holidays under a staircase of an abandoned building is slipping away.

“I am so worried. I was hoping my children will not have to wake up to this on Christmas morning,” said a sombre sounding Dick in a telephone interview with T&T Guardian yesterday.

Last Monday, Dick and her 18-year-old son met with officials at the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in Port-of-Spain about trying to locate an HDC unit for them. She said HDC officials told her they will have to decide whether her son, a security officer, met the requirements to qualify for a unit.

On that same day, she met with officials from the Ministry of Social Development. They told her to locate an apartment and the ministry will pay her rent for three months. Dick told T&T Guardian for the first time in months she felt hopeful and happy.

Contacted yesterday, Dick said: “I was hoping that I would hear something from HDC so at least we will know if my son qualifies or not but I have not heard anything yet.”

She also checked at least six places to rent thus far, but she was turned down.

“They (Social Services) told me to ask them if they will be willing to wait for a little while for the cheques. But, they all told me they not interested because the government doesn’t pay,” said Dick as her voice broke up.

The single parent lost her house which she built, in a fire in 2006 which also claimed the life of her three-year-old son. She has been renting since then and her health has also deteriorated. The two men who fathered her children are no longer in their lives. Dick, who worked as a security guard for 12 years, was forced to stop working five years ago because of her health issues.

She suffers from sleep apnea (a disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing while you sleep), anaemia and hypertension, depression, a low blood count, and has to do three surgeries unrelated to those conditions. Dick was assigned an HDC apartment at the buildings at Harmony Hall, Gasparillo which have since been condemned.

However, she left the building because of infrastructural problems and moved in illegally to another apartment and stopped paying rent. She was among 25 families who were removed from the buildings by HDC in March.

Dick, her children ages 20, 18, 16, nine, seven-year-old twins, and her four-year-old granddaughter lived in a tent on the compound, but then moved to under the staircase of one of the buildings to shelter frOm the harsh weather conditions.

Dick’s eldest child is also due to give birth to her second child. Following a slew of criticism about her on social media, Dick wanted to clarify that she was not blaming the Government or HDC for her predicament but pleading with HDC to “soften their hearts” and help her family. The family survives on Dick’s public assistance, her son’s salary and a food card.


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