The trinidad Guardian / Tamarind Square is now open for public use-no more padlocks on the gates. The recent judgment handed down by a High Court judge against the homeless population, and ruling in favour for the Port-of-Spain City Corporation gives them the authority to remove the padlocks from Tamarind Square, clean up the area, beef up security and keep the homeless population out of said square.
The homeless population will now have to find a place to call home, and with the busy Christmas season approaching, they will be coming close to a place near you. Our sidewalks will be overwhelmed with them; they will continue to urinate all over, distract motorists by begging; using obscene language to pedestrians as well as school children; indecently exposing, and also dropping faeces on the streets of Port-of-Spain (especially Treasury Street), and with the rainy season, raw sewage will flow through the streets.
However, the Minister of Social Development indicated that they have identified an area and will implement a plan to build a facility to house them. Reports are the plan has been approved by a working committee and is supposed to be implemented in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Port-of-Spain is trying to get the business sector involved to assist with this project. These two agencies, the Social Development Ministry, and the Port-of-Spain City Corporation must come together on this very serious social issue, do their home work, and come with a long-term plan to treat with this population going forward.
The working committee will put in place activities, residential rehabilitation, behavioural rehabilitation, job coaching, supported living coaching, in-home support living coaching, and many other programmes.
These programmes are very important as the idea is to have them trained and functionally able to contribute and be reintegrated into society. If these programmes are not in place, and without experienced staffing, the homeless population will leave the facility and head back to the streets once more.
SELWYN BYER ST JAMES