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Upgraded Clarendon Drop-In Centre and Night Shelter opened

DENBIGH, Clarendon: The rehabilitated and upgraded Clarendon Drop-In Centre and Night Shelter was opened during a special ceremony on December 8.

The facility, located adjacent to the Clarendon Infirmary on East Street in Denbigh Works, was rehabilitated, upgraded, and refurbished to the tune of J$9 million through an allocation from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, in his remarks at the ceremony called on the private sector to partner with the government to provide for the poor and destitute. He also disclosed that concerns are being expressed by residents about the influx of street people in rural parishes and towns, namely Clarendon and the town of Santa Cruz in St Elizabeth.

Jamaica has a homeless population of roughly 3,000 with approximately 80 percent of being men.

Meanwhile, Minister McKenzie noted that the homeless population is at significant risk and is increasingly being targeted by criminals.

“It is a sad day when a country turns on the homeless population in the way in which some of these criminals have,” he said. “And you know what is sad about it, I don’t hear one of these so-called human rights groups coming out condemning these actions. I don’t hear anybody talking about how brutal and how wicked these people are against the homeless of this country.”

The Clarendon Night Shelter has the capacity to sleep 25 persons nightly.

Drop-In Centres are the first point of contact for homeless persons and offer a range of care, including baths and other hygiene care, meals, and medical assessment.

There are similar facilities in St. Thomas, St. Mary, St. Ann, Trelawny, St James, Hanover, St. Elizabeth, and St. Catherine. The Clarendon Drop-In Centre was expanded to incorporate a night shelter.
The MLGCD’s Board of Supervision operates the Drop-In Centres and Night Shelters through the Poor Relief Departments at the Municipal Corporations islandwide. Night Shelters were also opened in Trelawny and St. Ann this year.

The St. James, Westmoreland as well as the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporations also operate Night Shelters. The Ministry also gives support to the Ebenezer Home in Mandeville, an in-house rehabilitation centre, as well as the Portland Rehabilitation Management Centre.

The Desmond McKenzie Transitional Centre in Kingston is also being expanded to accommodate more than 100 persons.