Tonight, there is serious friction between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Housing after the Housing CEO Lawrence Sylvestre had to be removed from the Natural Resources Ministry by armed guards yesterday.
It’s a dispute that all stems from over 50 abandoned, half finished homes at the Fresh Pond Housing Community. The houses were built during the PUP era but were never completed – and have been sitting there abandoned for years. But, they haven’t gone un-noticed because the property in the Burrell Boom area has value.
So, with the write off of tens of millions of dollars in housing department mortgages, the properties came up for re-issue. According to our information, the idea was to sell the property at a social rate, between 800 and 1,500 dollars to qualifying, low-income party supporters.
But this week, things took a turn when it came to the attention of a few interested observers that the houses – 10 of them at least – were being divvied up among party supporters including friends and family of Government CEO’s and the brother of Gaspar Vega’s Driver, Marlon Miranda.
The other last names of new property owners we’ve heard are Kelly, Flowers, Dixon, Burgess, Eagan, Roches, and Vasquez.
Here’s how it works: the house is assumed to have no value, and so the only value is the land, which is transferred for a social rate of usually $800.00 – and the land claims the house, so the new owner gets a structure on their new property.
But, the ministry of housing felt it was being boxed out of a process in which it still had what’s known as “equitable value”, meaning the structures, which is their property.
So, on Monday, Housing Director Noel Harvey and CEO, Lawrence Sylvestre marched over to the Ministry of Natural Resources looking for the files on who had gotten their houses. As we understand it, that caused some commotion in the Ministry – where the CEO and The Commissioner of Lands were out of office.
So, when CEO Sylvestre went there yesterday to follow up with the CEO – he was shown out of the building by armed Security Guards. We could not reach CEO Sylvester for comment and his counterpart, Natural Resources CEO Beverly Castillo would not comment.
But we’ve learned that the issue has been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and that’s because his sister and political officer Denise “Sister B” Barrow had also earmarked one of the houses for a Queen’s Square constituent only to find that it had already gone the Deputy PM’s driver’s brother.
It seems that blew the lid off the whole operation where it was discovered that many UDP-connected higher up’s who are not low income voters were getting in on the cheap houses.
We understand the matter rests with the Prime Minister tonight, who is looking into it.