New Hope for the Homeless in May Pen

MAY PEN, Clarendon — The fear of being taken away has long gone since a group of street people in the Clarendon capital, May Pen, were first transported to the Clarendon Drop-In Centre to access critical services over a month ago.

The centre officially opened to the homeless on May 31. Since then a group of between seven and 14 regulars have been making full use of the facilities, according to a news release from the Clarendon Parish Council.

Some now walk eagerly to the newly renovated facility located just outside the town for a bath, a quick rest, and a hot meal on weekdays. There are others, like 82-year-old Lloyd Homer Depasse, who asked if he could stay on at the facility permanently.

“Some of them are walking down now,” said a pleased Acting Inspector of Poor Jeanette Samuels-Morris, “they are no longer waiting on the bus.”

The Clarendon Poor Relief Department says it can account for some 35 individuals it believes to be homeless, and who reside on the streets of the parish capital.

The parish council says it has invested heavily in the rehabilitation of the centre and has partnered with the local police, community, mental health department, and other agencies. They have combined to run feeding programmes for the homeless and to make the Clarendon Drop-In Centre the relief facility for the homeless in the parish.

The intention is to gradually discontinue feeding the homeless on the streets of the capital, the release said.

The work of Ann-Marie Thomas, senior assistant inspector of poor, is critical to operations involving street people as she is familiar with their hang-out spots and anxieties. Thomas says based on her assessment of how operations have gone to date, additional assistance is needed to improve efficiency at the centre.

“We need a little more in place,” she explained “We need more clothing, we need more bedding.”

While the shortage of resources presents a problem, the centre has attracted interest and support. Juici Patties, for example, undertook a major Labour Day project at the facility. Food for the Poor Chairman Andrew Mahfood also toured the facility in early June and pledged his organisation’s support.

The parish council continues to ask faith- and community-based organisations to provide a hot meal for the homeless on weekdays.

The Clarendon Drop-In Centre is currently opened Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, and can be accessed off East Street on the premises of the Clarendon Infirmary.

The centre is intended to operate as a residential facility and emergency shelter for the homeless, and its operations are overseen by a sittingboard of management. The latter is currently applying for permission to operate the facility