A government-owned facility that will provide care, meals and bathe for homeless people has been opened in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
The day-to-day operation of the $14 million dollar St. Ann Drop-In Centre, which is sited in the neigbourhood of Buckfield – will be manned by the St. Ann Municipal Corporation.
“This Drop-In Centre is one of four such facilities that were started in the last financial year, under the Ministry’s Social Protection Programme. From this building will emerge the services that will deliver relief and a sense of dignity to homeless persons,” said Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Community Development.
“The expansion of national facilities that will provide care and comfort to our homeless citizens, is an important aspect of the work of this Government. It is one of the features of the human face of this Administration, and a symbol of our commitment to assisting the vulnerable in our society.”
Minister McKenzie was speaking at the official opening ceremony for the facility in Ocho Rios on May 11, 2018. The St. Ann Drop-In Centre will offer medical attention, nutrition and temporary housing for persons in need.
The last formal survey conducted by the Ministry in 2017 indicated that 59 persons were identified as being homeless in the parish of St. Ann. The Minister explained that while this figure is not static; it is vital that a point of constant care is established for these individuals.
“This project is part and parcel of the increasing investment that the Government is making in the structures and services of Local Government, to make it more effective,” he explained.
“We will also, through another special partnership, be creating new infrastructure at a number of Infirmaries to address social cases in hospitals. These are people who live on the hospitals’ premises after they have been treated, because they have nowhere to go. The St. Ann Infirmary will be one of the facilities that will benefit from this partnership.”
Minister McKenzie also posited that there is a concerted effort to modernize and lift the level of service from the Poor Relief Departments in the local authorities. These Departments are tasked with the care of the indigent in Jamaica.
“This modern approach will also include equipping the Poor Relief Departments with computers, printers and tablets, as we move to thoroughly digitize operational efficiency,” he noted.
“I am counting on the continued support of the elected representatives, the administrative staff and the people of Jamaica, as we continue the processes of changing attitudes to local government, changing attitudes within local government, and investing increased financing and time in the projects and people of the local government system.”