Efforts are under way to establish a national taskforce to end homelessness in Barbados, as the number of persons without homes continues to rise.
But, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, has made it clear that the challenge with homelessness goes beyond simply providing housing.
He called for a holistic response to the challenge that involved his Ministry, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Youth, other ministries, various government departments, churches and non-governmental organisations.
Mr. Humphrey was addressing a press conference ahead of a meeting to establish a national task force with stakeholders and the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, recently.
The Minister noted that once established, the national task force should have the approval of Cabinet “to give it its highest elevation”, to show Government’s support and determination to end homelessness in Barbados.
He added that a “significant amount of money” was allocated in the estimates for Government to begin the conversation on homelessness, and stressed that there was also a commitment to continue working with the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness. “All of us have to work together to do this,” Mr. Humphrey emphasised.
Mr. Humphrey added that Government, recognising the need for everyone to work together, gave a subvention to the BAEH and to the Soroptimists to allow them to carry out their work. In addition, he noted that the Clyde Gollop Shelter offered facilities for men who were homeless.
The Minister explained that not every case of homelessness was a result of a person needing a house, but also extended to them having drug use problems, mental health issues, and psychological and other social issues.
“This manifests itself even when we attempt to help clients. It becomes especially difficult for them to stay in the house when we try to offer them intervention,” he said.
He also warned that unless the situation of women being abused was addressed, it could lead to more homelessness.
Mr. Humphrey pointed out that the reality was that some people were transient in their poverty and in their homelessness. “We have to find a solution to help them before that becomes endemic; before it becomes their real reality, and move quickly to solve these problems before they become permanent problems,” he said, stressing that a more comprehensive response was needed to deal with the challenge.
SOURCE: Barbados Government Information Service. Headline photo courtesy Jon Tyson (Unsplash.com)