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No place for the homeless as storm approaches

SHERRYLYN TOPPIN, [email protected]

No place for the homeless as storm approaches

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WHILE BARBADIANS were heading home to prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Harvey, more than 100 homeless people across the island have nowhere to go.

During Starcom Network’s ongoing coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey, Kemar Saffrey of the Vagrants and Homeless Society said there were at least 100 people in The City alone, but they had no figures on those who were in other communities.

Saffrey said there had been an increase in the number of homeless in Oistins, Christ Church and Warrens, St Michael, but the numbers in Speightstown, St Peter, had decreased after they staged a project there more than a year ago.

He said at this time, they were hoping the hurricane shelters – at least those in Bridgetown – would be opened so they could direct the homeless there.

Some of the homeless had been bedding down near River Road, Independence Square, Fairchild Street and other places in The City. However, the closing off of the old Treasury Building on Fairchild Street was driving many of them to the beaches and bus shelters.

Saffrey said this was more of a safety precaution rather than merely seeking shelter.

He pointed out the homeless looked to secure their possessions at night and avoid being beaten and it was a deliberate move by them to gravitate towards bus shelters since they were on the main road. This means people were less likely to harass them in view of passers-by. He said the homeless were also shying away from sleeping in the doorways of businesses as there were reports of people throwing water on them.

Saffrey also revealed they had a petition with more than 70 signatures from the homeless – including that of Anthony Ninja Man Lynch – stating they would go into a facility if one was made available.

He said they used to house some of the homeless in the past, but a section of the building they rent on Tudor Street, Bridgetown, was no longer available.

Responding to a query from moderator Dennis Johnson regarding the size of a facility, Saffrey said they had tried on several occasions to get Government officials to provide them with a building which was not being used or assistance during the hurricane season, but all of these attempts had been futile.

He identified a three-storey building in The City which is on the market for $1 million.

Saffrey said they had toured the building with Government officials and architects. It would hold 30 to 40 men, about 25 women and ten children and also have space for a family dorm. (SAT)