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Phase Two of Desmond McKenzie Transitional Centre development to be completed in January

JIS NEWS, Kingston: Phase-two development of the Desmond McKenzie Transitional Centre for the Homeless in downtown Kingston, which is now under way, is slated for completion in January 2024.


The addition, which will increase the facility’s occupancy capacity from 40 to 100, is part of the Government’s drive to provide resources and infrastructure to improve the quality of life for Jamaica’s homeless population.


Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, who made the disclosure, told JIS News that the expansion will provide additional space for more destitute persons seeking assistance.


“We are looking at a three-month period to complete the second phase. So, we are looking at sometime in January. In the beginning, we were looking at a total of 100 persons… that is what we are targeting. Persons who are homeless and are [experiencing challenges], they are taken in here,” he said.


Senator Williams visited the shelter, located on King Street, on October 10 during a ceremony to commemorate the observance of World Homeless Day.

Clients of the facility were treated to care packages.


He said the facility provides a holistic programme that aims to offer shelter and the basic social needs to assist needy persons to rebuild their lives.


“We are trying as best as possible to transition people back into their normal lives, and we have provided employment for a number of homeless persons in the downtown area, primarily as environmental wardens. We are engaging the private sector to see in what ways they can provide employment opportunities for [some of these persons]. It is a total programme, and we are seeing success,” Mayor Williams shared.


In recognition of his many years of service to the nation’s homeless, the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) on May 10, 2022, approved a Resolution to name the facility in honour of Mr. McKenzie who is the Minister of Local Government and Community Development.


Minister McKenzie, who also visited with clients and staff at the facility, said the Centre continues to be a haven for this vulnerable population.


He said the significance of World Homeless Day “is not lost on us here in Jamaica, because we are seeing a growing number of persons on the streets right across the country”.


Mr. McKenzie said the shelter, which is the first adult transitional facility for persons living on the nation’s streets, is an indication of the Government’s commitment to improved social services.


In this regard, he said similar facilities are being built out across the island.

The Centre, which is open 24 hours, serves as a shelter and rehabilitative service point. It provides protection, specialised care, and aids in the holistic renewal of clients.