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Shelter to be built for homeless gays

Published:Thursday | December 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Following months of complaints from residents in New Kingston about a group of homeless gay men terrorising their community, there are now plans to build a home for these young men.

Plans for the proposed shelter, Dwayne's House, which is being named after 17-year-old cross-dresser, Dwayne Jones, who was reportedly killed by a mob in July, are said to be in their initial stages.

Human rights activist Yvonne McCalla Sobers said since October, a group of activists (including herself) and attorneys have been working at creating a space for the mostly teenage males who were chased out of their communities and now occupy the sewers and gullies in New Kingston.

"It's a newly formed group to offer care and support to gay, lesbians and transgender groups, and we see shelter as a means to enable these youths to reintegrate into society and get the psychosocial care they never had," she said.

McCalla Sobers said the group was working with various stakeholders to identify a secure location and funding for the construction of the home.

"We are now engaging with various stakeholders, including the clergy, health professionals and international donors as we are looking for any kind of help we can get," she added.

The shelter is estimated to cost close to $16 million to construct and will initially cater to 17 to 20 persons.

However, while the group is aware that there are homeless gay men on the streets in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew; downtown Kingston; and Ocho Rios, St Ann, the home might not be able to accommodate them all in the first stage of the project.

At the beginning of this month, police raided one of the gullies that the men are said to be occupying in New Kingston and several stolen items were reportedly confiscated from the site.