2947958
These homeless people sleep on the pavement at the corner of Duncan Street and Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.

[email protected]

Social Development Minister Donna Cox says the Ministry of Housing will be approached to provide transitional housing to the homeless.

This was among one of the proposals put forward during a stakeholder meeting geared towards addressing the number of street dwellers across the country at Cabildo Chambers, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

The proposal will depend on a mental health assessment that will identify if a socially-displaced individual requires health care or simple social rehabilitation.

“An assessment must take place and we are now in the process of trying to have an assessment centre. The Ministry of Housing is also supposed to assist us with transitional homes because there are persons who really have nowhere to live and we need to take them off the street,” Cox said during the event.

Cox said they had identified a potential location for an assessment centre at the corner of Duncan Street and South Quay, which would gauge if the socially-displaced required mental care or relocation.

However, the stakeholder group still requires legal advice concerning the way forward.

“I am hoping that in a month’s time we should have the legal information but we are not waiting with the areas that we have to, for example in a week’s time the letters would be going out to Minister of Housing concerning the transition, Ministry of Planning concerning the assessment centre that we have been waiting on so that they would not be redirected to some other area so we are gonna ask,” she said.

She stressed, however, that the homes would not be permanent for the socially-displaced, as they would be looking at three to six-month periods during which time the occupants would be encouraged to get back on their feet.

The meeting involved various stakeholders, including Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, Councillor Ryaad Hosein of the San Fernando City Corporation and Downtown Owners and Merchants Association representative Anthony Salloum.

Most of the participants expressed belief that the discussion was positive.

“We are on our way, the meeting was very instructive, we utilised all that we have learned. All the communication that would have taken place in the past and I feel comfortable as the mayor of Port-of-Spain to say that we will deal with the homeless situation in a very constructive, progressive and a manner in which will be very humane and we will come to a conclusion that within the very near future the hope of the homeless be addressed,” Martinez said of the initiative.

The group is set to meet again next month after reviewing the necessary legal processes needed for their plans to move forward. The mayor said according to a 2019 count, there were 441 homeless persons in Trinidad and Tobago with 229 in the capital.