A proactive approach is being employed towards beefing up and improving the administrative response to the unhoused or unsheltered (typically referred to as homeless) people in Saint Lucia, in the wake of an impending natural disaster.
As the lead agency on the National Homeless Response Committee, the Social Transformation Division of the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, on August 4, 2023, convened a special meeting of stakeholders to evaluate current procedures, perceived weaknesses, and chart the way forward for improvements in the system.
Head of the Unit Kendall Elva says the ultimate goal is to ensure that persons who are unhoused or unsheltered are taken off the streets and given shelter, especially during an impending storm or natural disaster.
He says it is critical that the example of the Castries operations be reproduced in key population areas across Saint Lucia.
“We want to replicate in Gros Islet, Vieux Fort and Soufriere what we have learned to Vieux Fort, Gros Islet and Soufriere as these areas also have significant numbers of homeless people. That is what we have invited the mayors of these towns also the presidents of their district disaster preparedness committees, the Salvation Army, the Office in Charge of NEMO and other critical stakeholders so that we can come up with a plan to facilitate the opening, managing and financing of the various shelters that are opened before hurricanes and other natural disasters, remarked Elva.
The August 4th meeting forms part of a broader plan by the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment to address the plight of unhoused or unsheltered persons.
Elva says his Unit will eventually present a new initiative that seeks to transform the range of services the Ministry provides to the nation’s homeless.
The proposed plan will include comprehensive research on homeless persons in Saint Lucia and a possible Half-way House to accommodate them.
The National Homeless Response Committee last sprang into action at the Vigie Sports Complex in June, before Saint Lucia was impacted by Tropical Storm Bret.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment