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Senior wants home back

Maria Bradshaw

Senior wants home back

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CENTENARIAN DORIS STOUTE should be spending her sunset years in peace and comfort – but that is not the case.
For the past three years the 102-year-old woman, who is visually impaired and bedridden, has been living in misery because the house which she built andlived in for several decades has been given to a young relative by the Urban Development Commission (UDC).
“Every day my grandmother tells me she wants back her house. It is breaking her heart because that is where she wants to die,” said Stoute’s distressed granddaughter Cheryl, who has taken the UDC?and the relativeto court in an effort to get back possession of the house.
Cheryl, who is her grandmother’s caretaker and also has power of attorney over her affairs said shewas forced to move her grandmother into her home at Eden Lodge, St Michael, in 2007 after she suffered a stroke. At the time Doris was living at Gunsite Road, Brittons Hill, St Michael, in a house she had built and lived in since the 1960s and where she raised her four children.
“One of her other granddaughters, [my cousin], had approached me in 2003 and asked if she could live with my grandmother. I gave her permission to do so, but even though she was living there I was the one who was looking after my grandmother,” Cheryl said.
However, she pointed out that before her grandmother moved in with her, she (Cheryl) had started legal proceedings in the court to have the other granddaughter evicted from the house.
Cheryl explained that there was a dispute between the two – her grandmother and her cousin – and her grandmother wanted her to leave the house.
“We went to court on May 11, 2009, and I?received a judgment from the court ordering my cousin to vacate my grandmother’s house. However, I never did anything after the judgment was made because she was family and I did not want her to be evicted at the side of the road.
But Cheryl said after she found herself having to spend $300 a week for the services of a nurse to look after her grandmother, she decided to ask her cousin to pay rent to live in the house so that the money could contribute to the old woman’s care.
However, she said that move resulted in an unexpected legal battle and in her grandmother losing her home.
“On June 18, 2010, I received a letter from my cousin’s lawyer stating that the house was owned by the UDC and that my grandmother had no legal authority to eject or demand any rent from my cousin and if I proceeded with it I?would be prosecuted”.
Shocked and dismayed, Cheryl said she immediately contacted the UDC?to find out what was going on.
“The only thing I?knew was that several years ago during an election time my grandmother had asked Sir Henry Forde for assistance in carrying out repairs to her home and arrangements were made for the National Assistance Board to do the repairs.
My grandmother told me that she never signed any documents . . . I remember calling Sir Henry to find out what was the policy regarding getting the house repaired and he just told me not to bother about it.
After receiving the letter, Cheryl said she went to the UDC?on several occasions and met with various officials there but none could tell her what was going on.
“All I was hearing was that they could not find a file in relation to my grandmother’s house and that they would have to get photos taken of the house and construct a file.”
Frustrated, she said she took the matter to her attorney again and a decision was made to pursue an eviction once more.
“The first day we went to court my cousin’s lawyer turned up and gave us a document stating that the house was not my grandmother’s house and on the next court date the director of the UDC, Derek Alleyne, turned up with a file and a contract agreement was given to my attorney dated June 27, 2011, made between my cousin and the UDC, which stated, ‘As of this date the house becomes available for —— for occupancy’. It had my cousin’s name written on it.”
“This is the part that hurt me. Up to this day the UDC?has not visited my grandmother
to speak to her about this matter yet they have given her house away to somebody else while she is still alive and I?believe that is wrong. Government only repaired a part of the house so how can they claim it and then give it to somebody else.
  “My grandmother worked for several years cutting cane on a plantation, and I remember her telling me that she sold rocks and kept her children under pea trees and sleeping at other people at night so that she could get money to build a house. She felt like a queen when shewas able to have her own home. It was her pride and joy”.
Doris, who is still very alert, also lamented the state of affairs.
Her voice frail and filled with emotion, she said: “I want my house.
I?pay Grantley Adams for that house and she owning it. I worked hard for my house – take me there and let me die in it”, she cried.
Fighting back tears, Cheryl said her fight was not to get her grandmother’s house but to let her die in peace knowing that she had worked hard and had achieved something during her lifetime.
“I?told the judge this is not a normal family squabble where I want the house but that I?feel that if anybody is benefitting from the house then they should assist in the care of the old lady. All I?can do is pray and pray that she gets back ownershipof her house before she dies.”
Up to press time I received no response from the director of the UDC?about this matter, even though a detailed report was left with his executive secretary.