Construction has started on a transitional facility that will be able to host 100 homeless individuals who dwell within the boundaries of the responsibility of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC).
The facility will be situated on King Street and will assist in both the shelter and feeding of the city’s homeless. It is being built under a partnership between the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and KSAMC.
It will supplement the Marie Atkins Night Shelter on Hanover Street, which provides a place for the homeless to sleep at nights and also the KSAMC’s Soup Kitchen on Church Street where they are fed each day.
“This is a much talked about project between the Ministry of Local Government and the municipality and we have started construction of the facility here, which would have male quarters and a female dorm.
“Also there will be a dining area and sections for medical personnel and the first phase is scheduled to be completed towards the end of June,” said Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams.
The facility should have been built at once, but Williams said the decline in revenue because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced authorities to alter plans and construct the premises in two phases.
He said the project should have also started already, but was stalled because of a lack of funds.
Williams said while the facility will not solve the municipality’s homeless problem, it will resolve some of the shelter and feeding issues being faced with the Marie Atkins Shelter having space for 100 individuals and the Soup Kitchen providing 1,200 meals daily.
He said that apart from the housing and feeding situation, the homeless in the city also face abuse regularly and although previous appeals to desist had eased the plight they face, the recent deaths of homeless highlighted the need for further public awareness campaigns.
“A large number of our homeless are abused by members of the public and we did some years ago, started a programme of appealing to members of the public to desist from that practice and we did see a major decline in the reports of abuse.
“We had a situation a few weeks ago, which is cause for concern to us and the municipality is very vigilant and I am pretty sure the members of the JCF are vigilant on the issue of abuse towards members of the homeless population,” Williams said.
In January, four of six homeless men attacked, died in different locations in Kingston and St Andrew. All were sleeping on the streets when they were attacked.