A cycle of poverty
Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
For more than 30 years, single mothers have raised their children who are now themselves single mothers on premises called 'big yard' at 118-120 Duke Street in downtown Kingston.
But last Friday the more than 80 adults and 40 children - spanning three generations - were forced off the premises when an eviction crew, escorted by the police, descended on the site and demolished the squatter residence.
Living on the premises for 22 years, 45-year-old Barbara Henry-Bennett said she was in no position to pay rent for somewhere to live with her two grown children, nephew and three grandchildren.
"Whatever the Lord have in store, I don't know, but I don't know where I'm going to go," she expressed.
"Wat mi suppose to duh now?" lamented pregnant 38-year-old Novia Beckford, who shared a two-bedroom board house with her seven children, ages 19 to three years.
"Mi live here from mi a baby, more dan 35 years now. Si deh, a seven a dem mi have and one on the way and a just me an dem alone, no father. Weh mi a go guh wid dem?"
She admitted that she had received notice to move about three months ago, but was unable to find anywhere.
"Me have two children pass fi high school, some fi go primary and basic school, and a dem uniform mi a look 'bout now, but now me leave homeless wid mi pickney dem, but me still a trust God," Beckford told The Sunday Gleaner.
It was a similar story among the other squatters, most earning a living as higglers in downtown Kingston.
They all shared that they were busy making back-to-school preparations for their children, but were now forced to change their priority.
"Nuff a we nuh have nowhere to go. Most of us born and grow here, parents grow up, died and leave us, so we don't know anywhere else, a only here wi know as home," stated Beckford.
Forty-three-year-old Jocelyn Smith and her seven children were busy gathering their belongings.
"Me can tell yuh say a right deh so weh me pack up me tings them me and them a go sleep tonight," she declared.
According to Augustus Sherriah, bailiff for the Kingston and St Andrew Resident Magistrate's Court, for close to two years the new owner of the premises has been trying to get the residents to move in order to begin construction.
However, after several failed attempts the owner brought the matter to the courts, which ordered the eviction.
A notice was served on the squatters but they still failed to move.
In May of this year there was an attempt to carry out the eviction, but this was met by fierce resistance from the residents, who mounted a roadblock on Duke Street and attacked the eviction crew.
However, this second attempt last Friday was met with little resistance as the squatters were more dejected by their predicament.