Letter of the Day | Have a heart for the homeless
THE EDITOR, Madam:
The streets of Kingston have been stained with the blood of six homeless men, four of them left dead. The soul of our city has been scarred and deeply tarnished by those grotesque and gruesome acts of murder.
All human life must be valued and regarded as precious. Where one lives, the possessions we own, our mental or physical health, or our social standing in the community, do not determine our worth. Human worth is not measured by addresses or productivity. The poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the mentally ill and the physically handicapped are fully human. Personhood is a gift from God that must be acknowledged from conception, and nurtured and protected at all stages of development.
The presence of the homeless in every major city across the world does not mean it is acceptable. Successive governments have made attempts to provide shelter and care for those who have found themselves living on the streets, either because of life’s misfortunes or because of their poor decisions in life. These efforts must be accelerated and become more organised to make them impactful and more sustainable.
To rid our streets of the homeless is not to truck them off somewhere so that they do not become an eyesore. Rather, it is to care for them as human beings because they have value. The solution to the problem of homelessness must take a multisectoral approach. The Church, the Government, NGOs and businesses must come together to offer greater protection and provision to the vulnerable, so that homelessness may be reduced, and those who are not well mentally can be cared for.
I commend those groups and individuals who have given selfless service to the homeless and have often done so without fanfare. Their efforts have not been in vain. The recent murders should signal to all of us that support for groups and individuals who serve the poor and the vulnerable must increase.
USE RESOURCES TO COUNTER-ATTACK
When attacks against humanity intensifies, our response must go beyond shock to counter-attack. Our counter-attack should include not only condemnation of the acts, but a new commitment to making ourselves and our resources available to correct those injustices. The churches, businesses, government, and individuals in Kingston and St Andrew have enough resources to make the City of Kingston a place with no homeless people, a city that is less hostile, a city that is safe.
We have the resources to build a different kind of city, a city with a softer touch, a city with heart! We can counter homelessness and violence through provision of jobs, rehabilitation facilities, more accessible healthcare, including mental-health intervention, the provision of more transitional facilities, and the provision of spiritual and psychological places of healing and deliverance.
When we have a heart, more will have a home. Heartlessness will lead to an increase in homelessness.
It is my prayer that as our city develops and accommodation becomes more expensive, that space will be created for those on the margins of society, so that none will be regarded and treated as less than human. The Church in the city will speak and act to uplift the downtrodden. We declare life not only from our pulpits, but through our selfless service and compassionate interventions.
REV DR ROY NOTICE
Bishop of the New Testament
Church of God in Jamaica