In a bid to curb the problem of street dwellers, the Minister of Social Development and Family Services, Ms Donna Cox has revealed that her ministry is in the process of finding a more appropriate centre for them.
She said the Riverside Plaza Complex is no longer sufficient and she has asked the Housing Ministry to assist with “transition housing” which is needed for street dwellers.
Ms Cox made the statement during Thursday’s Senate sitting,.
She said,” Right now we’re identifying areas not only for housing them but to find assessment centres as we must first assess them.”
She said her Ministry is speaking with Public Administration and is also seeking talks with the Housing Ministry to assist with transition housing as that is needed along with long care facilities for them.
Ms Cox said a meeting is scheduled for today involving Housing, Health, Local Government, National Security, the PoS mayor and others, on their commitment on the role they will have to take to help with the street dwelling problem.
Over the years, the Ministry’s Social Displacement Unit’s interventions with the street dwelling population involved an approach of voluntary engagement and removal from the streets via outreach, assessment and referral of such persons.
Its services include; Support to the Elderly to access Homes for Older Persons; Expansion of the Community Care Programme to include persons 18 – 54 years unable to maintain themselves or have no means of subsistence/place of residencel; Investigations of reports from agencies and the public on the presence of street dwellers at various locations throughout Trinidad; Social work interventions; Supervision, advice and support to various NGOs and other stakeholders who provide services to street dwellers.
Also, access to grants available via Social Welfare Division and subventions to Non-Government Organizations aimed at providing sanitary services, meals, accommodation to street dwellers.
One of the major features considered at the heart of addressing street dwelling is the establishment of an Assessment Centre.
Ms Cox said “Determination of a street dweller’s needs cannot be done effectively while he/she is on the streets. It’s best they are off the streets, at a location from which comprehensive assessment can be undertaken. The Assessment Centre will allow street dwellers respite, a place where their needs can be diagnosed and the beginning of individualized care plans can begin to take shape.”
Cox said identification of a location for the establishment of Street Dwellers Assessment Centres has been a challenge as it pertains to suitability and ease of access – but a suitable site will be sought in the shortest timeframe.
Currently there are 441 street dwellers identified.