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Montgomery Daniel

MP for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel at the handing over of the houses in Orange Hill on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. (Photo: API/Facebook)

North Windward MP, Montgomery Daniel has lashed out at people who he said described as “matchboxes”, the houses built in Orange Hill for people affected by the 2021 eruption of La Soufriere volcano.

He said that the criticism came from people who may have lived in basements in the United States for up to four decades.

The 27 prefabricated houses were donated by the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Foundation out of Trinidad and Tobago and erected on lands that belonged to the government.

The houses, which are fully furnished, were handed over to 27 families on Thursday.

“I want to say to you that because of our culture, sometimes it’s disheartening,” Daniel told the handing over ceremony, adding that when the houses were being built, “many a passers-by … commented that the houses were too small”.

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He said they asked how the government could be putting families in “match boxes”.

“… and some of these passers-by are persons who may have lived in the great United States of America for 30 and 40 years, living in basement and coming to tell us that the government is giving us much boxes, where the fact is that the families are now getting these houses, that the houses are placed on an average 4,000 square foot of land,” Daniel said.

However, some people have noted that many barrels and other supplies were collected, packed and shipped to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from many basement apartments and their occupants in the United States after the eruption and in the years prior. 

Daniel said that the houses in Orange Hill are two- and three-bedroom, with the two-bedroom houses having 600 square feet of floor space and the three-bedroom 600 square feet.

“And what is more important is that the families have been placed in a safer environment away from floodwaters,” he said, adding that each of the homes is valued more than EC$100,000.

He said this is why at the beginning of his speech he quoted the Bible, saying, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.

“You … lost your home, but today you are given a home well over the value of $100,000 plus the land, of course,” he said.

He said that in 1979, many people returned to their homes after the eruption of the volcano to find them damaged extensively.

“But I can say to you that persons, families had to face financial institutions to rebuild their homes. But this government has said no to such a policy, this government, we believe in assisting the poor,” Daniel said.

Orange Hill house
One of the houses in Orange Hill. (Photo: API/SVG)

Daniel suggested that his government was the only one in the Caribbean or the world that builds free homes for disaster victims.

“As a matter of fact, I’m aware that one of the greatest countries in the world, with the best economy, that since Hurricane Katrina struck, there are persons who are still in shelter.”

The government is committed to “rebuilding OTR better and stronger than before”, Daniel said, using a colloquialism meaning “over the river”, a term that refers to the area north of the Rabacca Dry River.

The MP, who has ministerial responsibility for transport, works, lands and physical planning, said that when the lands were being surveyed, he ensured that there was an area of 12 to 15 feet near the road to accommodate a sidewalk and a bus shed.

He said he also ensured that there is a recreational facility to the bottom, where the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for maintaining a green area.

“So, that benches and so on can be put in, where youth can go and even the older ones can go and enjoy themselves on a sunny day,” the minister said, adding that he ensured that a number of physical planning conditions were met.

He said that the Orange Hill housing project would be a model for others across the country.

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12 replies on “US basements occupants called Orange Hill houses ‘matchboxes’ – MP”

  1. Dr Kingsley Simmons says:

    And of those who complained about the size of the houses, how many made a contribution to the rebuilding of suitable accommodation for those affected by the eruption? My guess is zilch.

  2. Now what would this MP say to those critics who lived in the North America for the same period of time and never lived in basements. Mr MP you should of responded in a more positive manner you sound like the one who commented about “nannies and dog walkers’ a while back.Ignorance is surely bliss.Foot in mouth disease seems to be rampant in your circle.

  3. Negative comments like these are not welcomed. American Airlines will be flying Basement Vincies on a daily basis starting next year from the USA to ST Vincent.

  4. It is a shame and disgrace that Montgomery Daniel make such outlandish statements about people in the great United States live in basements for three or four decades. My question is where is the proof ?
    Show us the proof. Put your money where your mouth is.
    This statement is demagogic and hypocritical.He states that he is disheartened but add to the discontentment of division by deriding Vincy’s.
    Vincentians who emigrated to better themselves like others has to acclimate to their surroundings and take risk.
    It is these same Vincentians as myself who contribute to the economy in st Vincent by sending monies back home to help their love ones and others.
    I am a United States citizen and never lived in a basement. I as well as others contribute to the La soufriere resettlement project, made contributions to the airport in Argyle as well as Covid. You can’t have it both ways by deriding Vincentians while the embassy in New York and other organizations are begging for us to help our homeland.
    Stop the hypocrisy Montgomery since most Vincentians was not given a leg up like you.

  5. (I’m not politically minded)_ The little houses are beautiful and should be appreciated by the recipients and acknowledged by the public.
    Since the global financial crisis, a thriving business has developed building smaller houses called ‘ Tiny Houses’, some being mobile. Remember that some of us lived and grew up in smaller houses called huts, some are still to be seen.
    IlI’ be happy having and living in one of those houses.
    Should the Government build mansions ???.

  6. Nathan J Green says:

    But the ULP government did not give these houses to the poor, a charity from TT gave them, paid for them, and would have given them even if the government was NDP. The claims by a ULP spokesman, this government spokesman statement therefore feeding us misleading rhetoric. Do we have to be fed lies and deception at every turn ?

  7. So much ignorance from a member of parliament who should know better. He has limited education ,ignorant and cavalier making comments as those by painting all Vincentians in the United States with a broad brush.It echoes his ignorance and lack of a world view and these are the kind of people in government in St Vincent..These are not statements you make during a hand off ceremony especially when these said homes were donated to Vincentians by the” Sri sathya sai baba” charity out of Trinidad and Tobago. These homes had nothing to do with the government of SVG.
    I will caution Montgomery to be mindful of castigating Vincentians in the United States.
    Go figure keeping this up and Vincentians refuse to help their country with financial support because of stupendous statements like these made by a no in government.
    Be careful what you wish for.

  8. YOU YOU those ‘ basements occupants’ have to forgo their own comfort to ensure the survival of friends and love ones in this poverty stricken country under this ulp rule for over 20 yrs. No factories, unemployment all time high. Those occupants have better sense than u to recognized their beloved country is not what it use to b before u all took it over so they are help keeping it afloat so u will look good

  9. Those are good houses. The houses and apartments up here in the United States are ugly and small. Those houses in SVG is nice compare to up here in the States.

  10. Those are not words Montgomery should have used about people in the us are living in basements. If he should see where I live his mouth will drop. But the people there are getting houses that they never expected. Those are beautiful houses even though they may be small. Keep them clean and well maintained people.

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