Committee for the homeless launched in Manchester

Committee for the homeless launched in Manchester

Sunday Observer writer

Sunday, October 13, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — As part of a drive to reduce homelessness in this south central parish, the Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC) in partnership with the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) last week launched a Manchester Parish Committee for the Homeless.

Sixty-eight people, including 63 men, are listed as homeless in Manchester.

Acting corporate secretary for the Board of Supervision which delivers poor relief services, Treka Lewis, told a launch ceremony at Cecil Charlton Hall that the intention was to “address the issue (of homelessness) in a systematic and sustainable way”.

The launch ceremony, which was held last Thursday, took place as part of the commemoration of World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day.

Lewis told her audience that “In 1999 the homeless population in Jamaica was approximately 500. Today it stands at approximately 2,000 and this was based on a survey conducted by the Board of Supervision in 2017”.

She said the authorities needed “to be proactive and examine the symptoms and follow them back to the root cause (of homelessness)”.

According to Lewis, poverty and mental illness are not the only determinants of homelessness. “Other factors include family problems...disability, unemployment, substance abuse, among others. Many of us are one bad decision away from becoming homeless,” she said.

Mayor of Mandeville and chairman of the Manchester Municipal Corporation Donovan Mitchell called on the church to assist the homeless by donating land and other resources.

“I ask the church to see how best we can use the assets of the church to help the community because it doesn't make sense the church [is] rich and have all of this money and all of this land and yet the purpose of which the church was called out, we do not use those funds for it,” he said.

He added: “Let us remember that we are our brother's keeper.”

Mitchell said a resolution was passed at the most recent municipal corporation monthly meeting to establish the Manchester Parish Committee for the Homeless.

“We are committed at the MMC to see how best we can help to alleviate homelessness… we used our own funds and built two one-bedroom, state-of-the-art [furnished units] for two persons that were considered homeless,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Peter Bunting commended the municipal corporation for initiating the committee for the homeless and also urged people to assist the Ebenezer home and the Candle in the Dark Care Centre, which currently help homeless people.

“They [Ebenezer and Candle in the Dark] are demonstrating every day that persons with mental health illness can manage it and can be productive members of the society and I really hope that you will all give the necessary support to this initiative that we are launching here today,” said Bunting.

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