Mayor of Kingston Councillor Delroy Williams says that a recent notice published in the press reiterating the municipal’s policy on the feeding of the homeless by well-intentioned individuals was primarily due to the disorganized manner in which it was being done.
Addressing the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation’s (KSAMC) monthly general meeting on Tuesday, April 9, Mayor Williams emphasised that the feeding, by private individuals, of the homeless and indigent is strictly prohibited. He is demanding its immediate end.
“I would like to clarify several lingering misunderstandings regarding our publication reinforcing no feeding of the homeless on the streets of Kingston. [The Council] has pointed to the danger, nuisance and unhygienic situations that have arisen from the ad hoc feeding plan,” he said.
Mayor Williams further remarked that the KSAMC’s position on the matter is not new, as the policy was introduced and enforced under the immediate former Mayor Angella Brown Burke, in late 2014.
“For the record, let me state that this stance is not new, the Council took a decision to strictly prohibit feeding on the streets of Kingston and St. Andrew since September 28, 2014. The council was and remains concerned about both the way in which they are fed, and the locations [where] they are fed,” Kingston’s Mayor contended.
As a result, the mayor said a meeting with stakeholders from various churches and voluntary organisations agreed that a schedule should be prepared to “accommodate the feeding of as many homeless as possible each day.”
Speaking with Jamaica Today after the adjournment of the meeting, Mayor Williams noted that there was no ulterior motive on the part of the KSAMC, and implored these well-intentioned individuals and groups to coordinate with the feeding programmes now existing across the Corporate Area.
“If you look at it, there are persons popping up all over [Kingston] and just establishing their own feeding programmes – which is good – the spirit of it is good. It shows that we have a caring population, [however] we have established a set procedure.” This procedure, Mayor Williams continued, is “organized in a way that we can ensure that what we’re giving the homeless is clean, properly prepared, properly packaged and nutritious food.”
“Under what we are saying, [feeding of the homeless] it’s only acceptable if you make the necessary arrangements with us and you do it through one of our [homeless] centres,” Councillor Williams said there are designated areas for the homeless and the indigent to be fed. These include: The Open Arms Dropping Centre, The Marie Atkins Night Shelter, Webster Memorial United Church, Missionaries of the Poor, St. Stephen’s United Church, The Good Samaritan Inn, National Heroes Circle, St. Luke Anglican Church, The Salvation Army, Bethel Baptist Church, East Queen’s Street Baptist Church, and Stella Maris Catholic Church.
He said trained professionals are stationed at the locations to ensure the individuals receive optimal care.