NGOs being evicted from Tafuna gov’t housing
More than 20 Non-Profit organizations, which are utilizing government housing in Tafuna as offices have been given eviction notices, with six months notice to leave the premises, according to Director of Administrative Services, Malemo Tausaga.
In response to Samoa News queries the Director said Tafuna housing was built for government contract employees, not for NGOs (Non-Government Organizations). However, he said, the housing has not been used for its intended purpose. When asked if there are contract employees who are seeking housing elsewhere because ASG’s housing is fully occupied, Malemo responded, “no”.
“Currently all ASG contract workers have places to stay, but this housing must be only for contract workers, not for NGOs,” he said. When asked if the governor approved of evicting the NGOs, Malemo said this is well within his authority as the Administrative Services Director to make available the government housing for ASG contract workers. “The NGOs can call whomever, appeal to anyone, but the bottom line is — I’m doing my job,” he said.
Lions Club of Pago Pago, a group which has been serving the community for over 30 years was among those NGO’s who received an eviction notice. Members of the club were not happy with the move by ASG to evict.
According to the eviction notice sent to the Lions Club, Malemo initially thanks the club on behalf of the Governor and the people of American Samoa, noting the governor’s appreciation and gratitude for the club’s commitment to provide philanthropic services to the less fortunate sector of the population.
“Please know that your services are invaluable, which makes the announcement of the Executive decision rather difficult, as it may appear contradictory to the inherent acknowledgment of your value to the community.”
“Notwithstanding the government’s struggle to accelerate the development of its social and economical landscape to comprehensively address the needs of all residents of American Samoa and future generations,” said Malemo in his notice, that accordingly, it’s been determined after one year of assessing what is needed for the territory to ease the existing social and economic plight affecting all residents of the territory “ASG is now ready to implement its plans for the area”.
“It’s been determined that the private housing market is now sufficiently strong which negates the demand on government to provide temporary headquarters for expatriates working for ASG.”
Malemo explained that the Lions Club has been given six months to find alternative quarters for their operations. “By June 30, 2014 your organization will have effectively vacated the premises to accommodate the development plans of the American Samoa Government for the area.”
Samoa News sent queries to the President of the Lions Club of Pago Pago, Christopher King, however as of press time he had yet to respond. Samoa News notes the Lions Club has been occupying the ASG housing since 2004, and according to members, they refurbished the building themselves and have taken care of its upkeep. The Lions Club is best known for Project Eye Care, and the group has contributed to the health and well being of the community in dozens of projects over the years.
Samoa News also spoke to Tualauta House Representative Larry Sanitoa, who is also the District Chairman for the Boy Scouts of American Samoa, as well as a member of the Lions Club, who said the Boy Scouts have also received a written notice of eviction.
He told Samoa News he went to Malemo to ask about the reasons for the notice, and noted Malemo was himself a Boy Scout, but unfortunately he could not give Sanitoa any indication as to what the government has planned for the area.
He said, “We appreciate the place in Tafuna which we have, and it’s important to remember that we are very much an all-volunteer non-profit organization, which serves over 1,000 young men in Boy Scout activities.”