Homelessness cannot be solved solely by providing housing, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey said.
Humphrey, who was attending the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness’ (BAEH) National Task Force Meeting yesterday, explained that housing was only a temporary solution.
“We know that for many of us, the question of homelessness is not solved by providing housing and I think many people come to me and they say ‘Minister, this person is on the street, we need a house’, and we know that the reason that the person is on the street necessarily is not because they need a house in all cases,” he said.
“Many people have problems associated with drug use. They have mental issues – deep-rooted psychological issues. And a lot of this is manifesting itself even when we attempt to help clients. It becomes especially difficult for them to stay in the house sometimes when we try to offer that intervention.”
Humphrey added the Government planned to take a more strategic approach to bring long-lasting results.
“That is why I know that the only response to this has to be a holistic response that involves the Ministry of People Empowerment, and involves the Ministry of Health, particularly for mental health, that involves the Ministry of Youth because a lot of our young people find themselves on the street. It involves most of the ministries. I think that is where we have to begin,” Humphrey said.
Meanwhile, BAEH president Kemar Saffrey stressed that Government and privately owned social agencies needed to tackle the ever-growing problem of homelessness in the country.
“The meeting today [yesterday] is about combining efforts with the organisations that with homelessness. From the Welfare Department to police to immigration to church groups and civil society organisations. . .Out of this, obviously, we are looking to put together a national task force on homelessness. Minister Humphrey would have given pointers and guidance in terms of making it a cabinet-approved committee which will give it more strength,” he said.
A report by the BAEH stated that for the year 2022, the organisation had seen 253 new people affected by homelessness. This comprised 42 females, 149 males and 62 children. (RT)