BLACK RIVER, St. Elizabeth: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, has opened the country’s fourth Drop-In Centre in St. Elizabeth.
The St. Elizabeth Drop-In Centre, located at the municipal corporation’s complex in Black River, will provide care, meals and baths for the parish’s homeless population.
Approximately $12 million was expended on the construction of the government-operated facility that features a kitchen, dining area, doctor’s office, nurse’s station and treatment room, bathrooms and laundry room. The Centre is also accessible to the physically challenged.
“We have put staff in all the facilities and I am pleased to announce that in this year’s budget for the Ministry of Local Government, we have funds to operate all the centres,” Minister McKenzie stated.
“We are not operating any facility under this Administration that is going to abuse the people who seek the help of the State and that is why we intend to offer advanced training to those who work within our institutions.”
The St. Elizabeth Drop-In Centre was officially handed over by the Minister to the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation on April 26, 2019.
Construction began on four Drop-In Centres during the 2017/2018 financial year under the Ministry’s Social Protection Programme. It is envisioned that the facilities will deliver services with a sense of dignity to homeless persons.
Similar facilities were previously opened in Ocho Rios, St. Ann; Port Maria in St. Mary and Lucea, Hanover. They are tasked with offering medical attention, nutrition and temporary housing for persons in need.
Minister McKenzie has described the Drop-In Centre Project as an increasing investment by the Government in making the structures and services of Local Government more effective.
“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.”