Mayor: Don’t feed homeless on the streets

The San Fer­nan­do Cen­tre for Dis­placed Per­sons re-opened its doors to the home­less yes­ter­day. In Jan­u­ary, the cen­tre opened for just one day but there was no board in place. That prob­lem has been re­solved and San Fer­nan­do May­or Ju­nia Re­grel­lo con­formed that a new board will be in­stalled next Wednes­day dur­ing the San Fer­nan­do City Cor­po­ra­tion’s statu­to­ry meet­ing.

The project is the brain­child of Rur­al De­vel­op­ment and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Kaz­im Ho­sein who was the cen­tre for the re-open­ing yes­ter­day when more than 75 street dwellers were pro­vid­ed with hot meals, baths, hair cuts, clothes, med­ical check-ups, man­i­cures and pedi­cures.

Asad Ya­coobali, who will be in charge of the cen­tre said the plan is to even­tu­al­ly re­ha­bil­i­tate and rein­te­grate the home­less back in­to so­ci­ety.

“This is an ef­fort to reach out to the home­less with­in San Fer­nan­do and it is not on­ly that we want to feed them just for to­day, but we want to de­vel­op this in­to some­thing more. We have a beau­ti­ful cen­tre here that was cleaned yes­ter­day by CEPEP and we want to make use of this fa­cil­i­ty to fa­cil­i­tate some sort of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for the home­less.

“We want to get them ac­tive, we want to get them mov­ing, we want to see what their needs are and work with them in an ef­fort to get them off the streets and give them a lit­tle more com­fort and en­joy­ment in life,” he said.

Ya­coobali thanked the Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps, South West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty, the bar­bers and those who do­nat­ed clothes, food and oth­er items.

Re­grel­lo, who ap­pealed to cit­i­zens not to feed street dwellers in pub­lic, said: “Peo­ple have been com­plain­ing about home­less peo­ple on the prom­e­nade and around San Fer­nan­do and the feed­ing in the pub­lic, which is not healthy...to be eat­ing in the pub­lic in an ex­posed en­vi­ron­ment and more im­por­tant­ly, it con­tributes to the garbage on the streets. So we are go­ing to put this in a very or­gan­ised struc­tured mat­ter.

“We are ask­ing the pub­lic to de­sist from feed­ing them there (on the streets). You can con­tact the May­or’s of­fice tem­porar­i­ly un­til we have an of­fice.”

The may­or said the home­less pop­u­la­tion in San Fer­nan­do is about 145, but “be­cause of our gen­eros­i­ty and south­ern hos­pi­tal­i­ty” more street dwellers are grav­i­tat­ing from cen­tral and north Trinidad to San Fer­nan­do.

He thanked the Re­vival Time As­sem­bly for do­nat­ing the build­ing.

Asked whether the cen­tre will even­tu­al­ly have to be re­lo­cat­ed to make way for the San Fer­nan­do Wa­ter­front Project, Re­grel­lo said he is con­fi­dent some­one will vol­un­teer a build­ing.

- by Sascha Wilson

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