Letters to the Editor

Youth homelessness is no joke

Monday, May 27, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

The Sunday Observer reported in yesterday edition that homeless gays have now taken over a residence on Millsborough Avene much to the dismay of neighbouring residents within this largely upscale community. These homeless gays once wrecked havoc in "the golden triangle" and parts of New Kingston for years with their boisterous, "out of control" behaviour.

Having been chased out of these areas by police, they've now relocated, moving on 'up' so to speak. Did we really expect them to just vanish?

The problem is complex. There are many marginalised persons, neglected and hated for whatever reasons. What you're seeing here is the end result of hate, discrimination and uncaring attitudes which for years and decades pushed some to the outskirts and fringes of society. They are now reacting the only way they know how. Can we really blame these homeless youngsters who have nowhere to live, no support financially?


Is there a likelihood that they probably aren't even squatting, but are being supported by someone who at least showed compassion by offering an empty house in Barbican?

Many of these youths had to flee their families, homes, communities, and at a very young age they were forced to fend for themselves, as grown adults do, even as they live in the wilderness out on the streets. Without social skills and education, they remain out of control as expected. No one cares; not Government, not people.

Many of these youths had to flee their families, homes, communities, and at a very young age they were forced to fend for themselves, as grown adults do, even as they live in the wilderness out on the streets. Without social skills and education, they remain out of control as expected. No one cares; not Government, not people.

Many of these youths have been subject to homophobic violence, attacks, and are now fighting back through anti-social behaviour -- all learnt -- not singularly, but collectively as a group. Isn't this exactly the same treatment they got from mainstream heterosexual society which pushed them to the edge in the first place?

Even the police now seem helpless. Violence cannot be condoned, there is absolutely no excuse, but fighting hate and discrimination is another issue completely. Activist groups, like J-FLAG, have also abandoned them; they are out of control youth, and most likely these groups fear they may tarnish the little reputation and advances they've made, so far, in a society where culture and attitudes are still largely homophobic.

As a society, we cannot ignore homelessness forever, especially youth with years ahead of them. If we do, the results could be catastrophic. Unless we start caring, we will only get more of this. Authorities need to step in and help to find a a safe shelter for homeless youths; where rehabilitative services, counselling and education and health services, along with food, shelter, can be provided in order to get these youth back on right track.

Their sexuality ought to be really irrelevant, they are human beings first, they are Jamaicans first. We cannot treat the most vulnerable in society -- children, elderly and poor and sick -- without some basic level of compassion, it speak volumes about who we are as a people, and what our Government really represent.

We cannot ignore these problems forever as if we don't care. I urge the Government to get involved, the church, lead by example. If not, this problem will only escalate significantly into other communities. Homelessness is not a joke, it also breeds violence, and other types of anti-social behaviour, which will only get worse.

Pete Delisser

pdelisser1988@yahoo.com

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