Jamaica News: The newly built St. Mary Drop-in Centre, located on Hodgson Street in Port Maria, was officially opened on Thursday (November 1) by Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie.
The facility, which will provide provisional shelter for homeless persons in the parish, was constructed at a cost of $12 million.
Its features include offices for an administrator and medical staff; staff bathrooms; a dining room, kitchen, storeroom, laundry room, bathrooms, and two overnight rooms.
Speaking at the official launch of Local Government and Community Development Month at the Claude Stuart Park in Port Maria, Mr. McKenzie said the Ministry is providing an additional $1.5 million to erect a perimeter fence as well as to undertake landscaping of the property.
Additionally, he said the Ministry will provide the necessary funding to pay the staff and manage the centre.
Mr McKenzie said the Government is taking the necessary steps to safeguard the welfare of the poor and destitute, while improving their lives.
He noted that since 2016, the Administration has spent more than $2 billion to improve the lives of the society’s most marginalised and vulnerable citizens.
Mr. McKenzie indicated that his Ministry is working closely with the Ministries of Health, and Labour and Social Security to advance the lives of these individuals.
“Your tax dollar is working,” he assured, while urging broad stakeholder partnership in nation building
For his part, St. Mary Municipal Corporation Chairman and Port Maria Mayor, Councillor Richard Creary, welcomed the construction of the centre, which falls under the Council’s purview, adding that efforts will be made to facilitate overnight accommodation for homeless persons taken in.
Similar expressions of gratitude for the facility were also conveyed by Pastor of the Port Maria New Testament Church, Rev. Nakia Johnson.
Chief Executive Officer for the Corporation, Ethlyn Douglas, said the centre is a welcome amenity for the parish’s homeless.
“They can come and they can have showers, they can have a change of clothes [and] they can have their medication administered. We have plans to build on this [and] to do activities here so that they can [be] rehabilitated and get back into their homes,” she told JIS News.
Ms. Douglas advised that there are currently 20 registered homeless persons in Port Maria, and indicated that additional data is being captured to reflect the true population.
Local Government and Community Development Month is being celebrated in November under the theme ‘Protecting the Vulnerable… Establishing hope through Local Governance’.
Source: JIS News