THE EDITOR: In seriously addressing street dwelling in the capital, Minister of Social Development and Family Services Cherrie-Ann Crichlow-Cockburn takes an approach that appears to require additional perspective.
It is lamentable and counterproductive that the city’s last green space at South Quay should be converted into an expanded version of the Riverside car park — a mistake from which the city will never recover. The area should instead serve as a starting point for much needed gentrification.
In my view, discouraging street dwelling would effectively involve constructing two facilities (one for men, one for women) well outside the city’s limits in pastoral settings conducive to restoration and rehabilitation and with access to medical services.
These could be operated by St Vincent de Paul and supported by social services.
Such an arrangement would then require only the assessment centre in the city to initially process and transfer people to the two larger facilities.
This would require much less space than is available at South Quay and so may be located elsewhere without compromising the last green space in the city.
Current experience at the Riverside car park homeless shelter sees homeless non-residents crowding the open ground floor, generating an unhealthy and unsightly environment. Garbage contractors frequent the area, availing themselves of a cheap and regular supply of garbage collection labour.
The denizens of the Riverside car park and others are known to defecate in Tamarind Square and at the entrances to other properties in the area.
Such visible offences occur alongside other unmentionable and less visible activities generated by the presence of this facility in the city and those it persistently attracts.
Removing this type of facility altogether will also allow charitable organisations to refocus on the city’s regular poor who become forgotten given the greater attention paid to street dwellers.
STEVE ESCALIER via e-mail