Fri | Dec 4, 2020

14 homeless drop-in centres by next year

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica’s 14 parishes will have at least one drop-in centre for the homeless by 2020, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has vowed.

McKenzie said that the Hanover facility, which was formally opened last Friday, was the sixth of its kind to be established across the island in the last 18 months.

“We have two more that are under construction, one in St Thomas and one in Trelawny, which is almost complete, so this will bring the total number of drop-in centres that we would have started construction on and would have completed since 2016 to eight,” said McKenzie. “The eight facilities are catering for some 700 persons right across the country.”

According to McKenzie, Portland and St Catherine will be the next two parishes to get drop-in centres by the end of the year.

While the Hanover facility is now up and running, the local government minister said the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) and its Poor Relief Department will still continue to get additional assistance to ensure proper staffing and the equipping of the facility.

“No drop-in facility that is constructed in this country will struggle to find funds to keep the doors open to offer service to those who are in need,” emphasised McKenzie. “The support of corporate Jamaica has been sought and is forthcoming, and there are plans for them to work with the Ministry of Local Government with the running of the institutions.”

The newest drop-in centre, which is located on the grounds of the HMC Poor Relief Department and was constructed at a cost of J$14 million, was completed last October. However, its opening had been delayed till last Friday.

In giving an overview of Hanover’s homelessness crisis, Neika Edram, the inspector of poor, said there are approximately 100 homeless persons in the parish – 91 males and nine females.

“The primary causes of homelessness in Hanover are mental illness, fire, substance abuse, involuntary immigrants (or deportees) and poverty,” said the inspector.

Edram noted that there are several programmes for the homeless being carried out by her department, in collaboration with private organisations and individuals.

“I want to use this medium to say thank you to the business community and volunteers, who have contributed cash, kind, and service to these programmes,” said Edram. “The new facility is a state-of-the-art one, which will provide holistic care, rehabilitation, and reintegration for the homeless of the parish.”