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Evictees fear fees may put homes out of reach

Families who have been living in squalor in Andong Village in the Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district fear they will end up homeless because they can’t afford monthly payments to live in homes designed to give them a better life, a villager said yesterday.

Mother-of-six Keo Puthna told the Post yesterday that authorities had ordered more than 20 families into temporary housing while authorities and US organisation People for Care and Learning build new homes for them nearby.

Puthna, who lives in a tiny house set to be demolished to make way for a road, said the authorities have announced that each family that moves into a new house will have to pay $1,000, which, she adds, will be impossible for some.

“The government wants us to pay $10 per month. I’m worried about this because we are very poor,” she said. “We live day to day – how can we afford the fee? What we worry about the most is that authorities will bring other people to live in those houses because they can afford the fee and we can’t.”

Families were relocated to the Andong villages in Kork Roka commune in 2006 after being violently evicted from Samnok Chab village in the capital’s  Chamkarmon district.

When Post reporters visited Andong last year, sludge-filled streets containing human waste led to cage-like wooden houses that families could barely stand up straight in.

The horrible conditions inspired PCL director Fred Garmon to announce plans to build “an entire city” nearby.

In an email last night, Garmon  said PCL was not seeking repayment for the homes.

“There had been discussion about charging a $9 per month [maintenance] fee for three years,” he wrote.

“In recent days, however, our PCL staff have encountered some confusion concerning this fee and PCL USA issued a directive to our Phnom Penh staff to simply ‘gift’ all homes being built in the BAC project.”

Hundreds have already been housed in the “city”.

“The villagers should be happy with this project,” Phy Noub, Kokroka commune chief said yesterday.

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