'I am not anti-poor' ... Chuck explains 'Buy them Out' proposal
NORTH EAST St Andrew Member of Parliament Delroy Chuck said yesterday that he is not anti-poor, and that his suggestions for the buying out of properties in depressed communities is born purely out of a desire to ensure urban renewal and the transformation of those areas.
"Absolutely not," Chuck responded when asked if he was anti-poor. "I am in politics to serve the poor, weak and vulnerable. I am not in politics to help the rich and upper class in society.
"Those are the people I serve the most. Most of the time I have spent in political representation has been to assist the poor communities of Grants Pen, Barbican, Liguanea, and Shortwood. They take up most of my time, and in many ways, they are the ones I cater to in terms of their needs, and they are the ones who depend a lot on government services," Chuck told The Gleaner yesterday.
His comments followed a proposal he made in the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday for the State to buy properties in depressed communities.
"It might not be a bad idea for [the] Government to declare certain depressed areas, especially in Kingston and St Andrew, to be development areas. Take a five acre - buy out the people, and let private developers bid in order to put in some housing developments," Chuck said.
Yesterday, Chuck said it should not be interpreted that he was advocating economic cleansing. He argued that in many cities across the world, government moves into depressed areas and acquires properties to allow for decent development.
Dismissing any suggestion that he is advocating the buying out of properties of the poor in order to accommodate more affluent income groups, the four-time MP said, "That is the last thing I would want."
Chuck said that in areas of his constituency, high-rise buildings were being put up, some as high as three-storey dwellings, and that they were a source of great inconvenience to persons who live in adjacent single-storey dwellings.
"People feel that people who live in these three-storey buildings are looking down on them. It is an unstructured development, and in a residential area of single-storey houses, to have a three- and four-storey development beside them is changing the character of that community," Chuck said.
urban renewal for poor's benefit
He further told The Gleaner that most of the development he would want to take place as part of urban renewal would be to allow poor and middle-income Jamaicans to be able to benefit.
"When I said we buy them out, I mean we buy out those residential owners in depressed areas. ... You pay them so that you can develop these areas. To the extent that these houses will never see a new development because they are in depressed areas, I say Government should come in and take a piece of land, a five acres, and put in a residential community," Chuck explained.
"I do not deny that (in) many of these communities, the houses are occupied, some by poor people, some by lower middle class or even middle-class people. The fact is that if you purchase their homes, they can move elsewhere to a better community, and because you are going to develop these areas, you could, in fact, pay them a higher price so they can buy homes in Barbican or Havendale or Meadowbrook," he added.