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Removal of homeless before Obama visit was start of long term solution - Mayor

Published:Friday | May 1, 2015 | 5:07 AMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Brown Burke ... One of the things that I said in 2012 when I became mayor was that I was not going to become one of those Mayors who around Christmas or New Year feeding the homeless on the street, taking a picture that will appear in The Gleaner.

More than a dozen of the homeless people removed from downtown Kingston ahead of last month's visit of United States President Barack Obama have been reintegrated with their families, says the Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angela Brown Burke.

Some 162 persons who camped in the vicinity of downtown Kingston were forcibly removed by a team led by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

But Brown Burke, is adamant that it was not an exercise to simply rid the streets of the homeless. 

"I want individuals to believe us when we say that we are concerned about the homeless and to believe us when we say we are working on it," the Mayor said.

She told a face to face meeting organised by the governing People's National Party of which she is vice president, that the corporation is moving to provide additional space in facilities such as 'drop in' centres to accommodate the less fortunate.

"We have not taken them to Manchester as some people are saying. We haven't taken them to Clarendon, we haven't tied them up in a corner," Brown Burke said at the meeting held at Campion College in St Andrew, Thursday.

"What we did,  because we had a multidisciplinary team with us, we made the assessment.  Sixty-one of them needed medical care and we took them to Kingston Public Hospital. Fifty-odd of then, given their mental state,  we admitted to the Bellevue hospital. Eighteen of them were reintegrated with families and the balance of them we took into our shelter," the Mayor said.

"One of the things that I said in 2012 when I became mayor was that I was not going to become one of those Mayors who around Christmas or New Year feeding the homeless on the street,  taking a picture that will appear in The Gleaner," she added.