Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says attacks on homeless persons must be condemned.
“We are seeing a significant increase in the number of attacks, fatal attacks, on persons who live on the streets of this country,” the Minister pointed out.
Mr. McKenzie was addressing the official opening of the Falmouth Homeless Shelter in Trelawny, on May 5.
“Portland alone, since the beginning of this year, has seen vicious attacks, which have [resulted in] the death of at least three homeless persons in Port Antonio,” he noted.
He outlined that citizens must condemn the attacks on the indigent, as many are living on the street due to varied unfortunate circumstances.
Mr. McKenzie also said that homeless citizens often struggle with mental health issues due to the challenges they face on the street.
“When they have to fight the elements, mother nature, and then they have to fight the ‘two-foot puss’ and criminals, that is where their mental health becomes tested,” he added.
The Minister said the Government is now placing trained psychiatric nurses in the island’s infirmaries to deal with the mental health challenges the residents often face.
The Falmouth Homeless Shelter, which was constructed at a cost of $25 million, will provide temporary shelter, meals, and bathroom amenities for homeless citizens of Falmouth and its environs.
Mr. McKenzie is encouraging the business community to lend their support to facilities that cater to very needy persons.
“The Government alone cannot do it, and this Administration will not allow these facilities to fall short of what is required to operate them, but we need the support of the wider Jamaica… . The church can also help us,” he said.