Sat | Nov 17, 2018

MoBay’s homeless poised to get a home

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer
Lennox Wallace

WESTERN BUREAU:

The St James Health Department is currently putting plans in place to build a new live-in facility for Montego Bay's homeless people as part of a move to reintegrate the intended recipients into society, as well as to improve the environment in the western city.

Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, told The Gleaner yesterday that the construction of the facility, to be located near the St James Infirmary in the Albion community, would be discussed with representatives of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.

"We had a meeting yesterday (Thursday) with the architects, putting everything together so that we can present the plan to the CHASE Fund ... so that the facility can be started," said Wallace.

REHABILITATION

"We will be building facilities where the homeless persons can stay and do various activities such as carpentry. The aim is to have them properly rehabilitated so that they can be productive," continued Wallace. "By the end of this year, they will be in a facility where they can be properly treated and be able to return to society."

According to Wallace, there are approximately 70 homeless persons in Montego Bay and its environs, many of whom pollute the city with garbage and body waste.

"These persons cause a lot of environmental health problems in the town by dispersing garbage all around, urinating, and causing the place to have poor hygiene," reported Wallace. "We came together as a health department and presented the information at one of our tourism stakeholders' meetings."

The construction of the new facility will also serve to prevent a recurrence of the infamous Street People Scandal, in which 39 homeless persons were whisked away from Montego Bay in the pre-dawn hours of July 15, 1999, and dumped near a mud-lake in St Elizabeth.

"We remember our own 'black eye' here in Montego Bay, with the carting away of some of these homeless people. We want to ensure that this does not happen again in our history as a parish. Therefore, we are making preparations, to build that facility in Albion to house these persons so that they can be properly treated," said Wallace.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com