Sat | Apr 20, 2019

Homeless to get drop-in facility on King's Street, Kingston

Published:Saturday | December 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie (fourth right) and Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams (third right) along with Alando Terrelonge (fourth left), state minister of culture, and others, flip the switch to turn on the lights on the Christmas tree at the St William Grant Park in Kingston on Thursday night. The group was participating in the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Persons gather at the St William Grant Park in Kingston on Thursday night to view the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Ashe Performing Arts Group in full flight on Thursday night at the annual tree-lighting ceremony at the St William Grant Park, downtown Kingston.
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Homeless persons living on the streets of the Corporate Area will soon benefit from a state-of-the-art drop-in centre equipped to cater to their specific needs.

The Ministry of Local Government and the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) will begin work to convert the old clinic on King Street into a centre where street people can be provided the care they need.

The announcement was made by Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie during the annual tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Kingston on Thursday night.

The former mayor said that it has been his wish since he was in office at the KSAC (Kingston and St Andrew Corporation) to build a facility for the poor and destitute across the Corporate Area but was unable to make his dream a reality until now.

"Many years ago when I sat in the chair at the KSAC as mayor, we came up with an idea to convert the old clinic at the top of King Street into a modern drop-in facility for persons living on the streets of the Corporate Area. We were not able to complete the mission, but tonight, I'm pleased to announce that this year, I'm in a better place to ensure that those wishes are fulfilled," McKenzie said.

The local government minister said that his ministry and the KSAMC would be refurbishing and constructing a drop-in centre for Kingston that would provide the necessary facilities for persons living on the streets of the city.

With the highest number of homeless people in Jamaica living on the streets of the Corporate Area, McKenzie said that it was time that the Government turned its attention to Kingston and St Andrew. At present, more than 1,000 Jamaicans live on the streets of the Corporate Area.

"The Ministry of Local Government, over the last year, has been doing a number of activities, working on our infirmaries and upgrading facilities for the poor and destitute across the country."

Arguing that the country should care for the less fortunate, McKenzie noted that many homeless persons were once nation builders. "We have to do it because many of those persons who are living on the streets were once movers and shakers of this country. Many paid their taxes and have contributed in a very significant way to the growth and development of the country but have now found themselves in a difficult situation, and it is left to the Government and the KSAMC to ensure that we take care of the poor and destitute."

He urged corporate Jamaica to assist with the construction of the drop-in centre for the homeless.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com