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Sando businesses want to help homeless
The San Fernando business community will co-operate in whatever way it can in the effort to help eradicate the homeless/vagrancy problem plaguing the southern community. President of the San Fernando Business Association Daphne Bartlett, in an interview with the T&T Guardian, said business owners were concerned about the problem and have in the past met with various politicians to come up with a plan to ensure the streets and the city’s businesses were safe.
Acknowledging that several of the homeless on the streets were violent and suffered from mental illnesses, Bartlett said proper accommodation and shelter needed to be made available to them. “Some of these people are very violent and we have knowledge that they have been jailed and as it is now they are a nuisance. Due to these violent streaks and mental state they should be taken to St Ann’s,” she added.
She said for the past several years, the business association had been calling for measures to be implemented to deal with the problem. “We have been calling on the relevant authorities and saying we should not tolerate homeless people. It’s not humane. They need to be housed in a certain way and cared for properly,” she said.
Bartlett said on numerous occasions, businesses had pledged their support to find ways to rid the streets of vagrants but had been told legislation needed to be passed for certain action to take place. “I have met with the Attorney General and he had advised me that such legislation has his attention,” Bartlett said.
While conceding that not all homeless people had fallen prey to substance abuse, Bartlett said HIV/Aids, deportation, depression and even being evicted from their homes contributed to homelessness. She said there were people who have jobs but because they have no place to stay, they lived on the streets until they were able to put a roof over their heads.
Bartlett dismissed claims by the management of Court Shamrock, a centre for the homeless, that the business community in the southern city did not contribute or assisted their rehabilitation efforts. “They (management) have never approached us,” she said. She said she visited the centre two years ago and millions had been spent on the building by the San Fernando City Corporation.
Adding that the centre also received a subvention from Government, Bartlett said her association always was open to assist a cause which would benefit San Fernando.
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