Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2015 Contents A12
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Minister of the People and Social
Development Christine Newallo-Hosein
says while her ministry is responsible
for caring for street dwellers they cannot
forcibly remove them.
Newallo-Hosein said should the PP
Government get a second term in office,
consideration would be being given to
constructing a homeless centre, modelled
after the Chapman Partnership facility in
Miami, to address the homeless problem
She said ministry officials visited the
facility which houses two homeless assis-
tance centres equipped with 800 beds
and collectively serve approximately 5,000
men, women and families with children.
Chapman provides a comprehensive
support programme inclusive of emergency
housing, meals, health, dental and psy-
chiatric care, day care, job training, job
placement and assistance with securing
stable housing. However, it has an 89-
day average length of stay for single adults
while families with children cannot exceed
Newallo-Hosein said the facility was
recommended by a non-governmental
organisation the ministry engaged and
consideration was being given to entering
into a Memorandum of Understanding.
"The Chapman facility is really good.
I will say in our next term, this is some-
thing that I will definitely look at."
The minister s comments were sought
following the arrest of 17 street dwellers
in San Fernando on Wednesday.
The men and women were rounded up
while asleep on park benches and card-
board boxes on Harris Promenade, a
stone s throw away from the police station,
court and City Hall and taken before a
magistrate. The majority were fined $200
each and released. They have since
returned to the streets.
The arrest was part of the police South-
ern Division initiative called holistic polic-
ing aimed at reducing the incidents of
break-ins at residential and commercial
San Fernando Business Association
president Daphne Bartlett said the solution
was to amend the law so they could be
Bartlett said she personally met with a
lot of street dwellers with a view to helping
them, but 90 per cent of them were not
interested. Both Newallo-Hosein and San
Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein also shared
similar stories of street dwellers resisting
Noting that some street dwellers are
violent, a public threat and a nuisance,
Bartlett said: "We talk about basic human
rights and constitutional rights, those are
the words we hear about a lot these days.
Okay, yes, we want to help them but aren t
they infringing on our rights too at this
stage of the game.
"We need to stop throwing a blind eye
on that, stop using the law about basic
rights factor and get busy and take them
off the streets if you have to amend the
law, amend it, because it is not to say we
have not investigated homelessness in
Trinidad. I have done it extensively and
the conclusion is that they need to be
taken off the streets."
As mayor of the city, Hosein is equally
"This is a priority. It is one of the things
I hope to accomplish before my term
expires," he said.
He has mandated alderman Vidya Mun-
gal-Bissessar and councillor Phillip Mon-
tano to deal with the issue, but acknowl-
edges, "It is a national problem and we
need help from central government to
have it properly addressed."
There are approximately 400 street
dwellers in the country and out of that
150 reside in San Fernando. Apart from
their unpleasant appearance and offensive
smell, some of them are violent and often
use the streets as their personal toilets.
Hosein said the San Fernando City Cor-
poration has entered into a partnership
arrangement with the Revival Time
Assembly for the establishment of a soup
kitchen and shelter, with accommodation
for between 50 to 75 people at Kings
Wharf, San Fernando.
"We will not be able to get them off
the streets completely but we are trying
to have some kind of control," Hosein
Ministry looks at Miami blueprint to solve problem
Colin Soo Ping Chow carries a portrait of his
younger brother John, a victim of the February 4 El
Pecos explosion, following yesterday's memorial
service at the Church of the Assumption, Long
Circular Road, Maraval. John succumbed to his
injuries four months later while undergoing
treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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