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Eleven words that speak volumes

Denise Carey, the director of Home, a charity helping the homeless (Photograph supplied)

In a document about homelessness that runs to almost 25,000 words, 11 sum up the problem.

“There has been an historic absence of will towards ending homelessness”.

Another 15 words in the Plan to End Homelessness report add: “Multiple decades of observing a consistent increase in the homeless population has created community fatigue.”

Today, The Royal Gazette in conjunction with stakeholders including Home, a charity helping the homeless, reminds the community that the homeless matter.

Home, and others, want to end homelessness. So do we. We want your support. We want you to change your perception of the homeless. We want you to help lobby for simple changes. We want you to show compassion.

Homeless people want to work so that they may be self-sufficient. They did not choose to be homeless and in many cases their plight was brought about by systemic failings in this country.

In 2010, the Bermuda Census identified 82 people experiencing homelessness. By 2016, that number had risen to 138.

According to Home, which produced the report, the Department of Statistics developed those estimates based on counting rough sleepers and the population housed in the Salvation Army emergency shelter.

As of December 31, 2022, Home had recorded more than 650 people experiencing homelessness.

They are not the panhandlers we see on Hamilton’s streets.

“We have families who are living in cars, with young people, with seniors,” Denise Carey, the director of Home, said.

“We have individuals who are house hopping or couch surfing who look like me, talk like me. We pass them in the community every single day, but we have absolutely no idea of the financial strain that they are under.”

Ms Carey added: “The individuals that we see outside rough sleeping actually do not even represent the vast majority of individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”

The Gazette looks at the causes and types of homelessness as well as some solutions outlined in the report. We also interview Ms Carey, who is deeply passionate about ending homelessness.

In the coming days and weeks, we will also feature the stories of the homeless and talk to other agencies who see the causes and effects of homelessness.

Dexter Smith, Editor of The Royal Gazette, said: “For many, the first instinct is to turn away and walk past when we see a homeless person or someone whom we see as little more than a street beggar.

“With this reporting, we want to change perceptions, we want to make our readers aware that as they sit at their office desk their work neighbour could be homeless, living on different couches every night or sleeping in a car.

“They look like me, they look like you, they have not chosen to be homeless, they may have been let down by the system and they are probably afraid of telling anyone.

“As a society, we need to understand the issue better so that we can find and put into place some solutions. Let us all work together to address this problem.”

Today we also feature Lorrin’s story. Asked what would help him the most, the university-educated chef whose “home” is the Bull’s Head car park, said: “Just being off the streets. Stability, that’s all.”

That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

• The full report can be found under Related Media

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Published February 12, 2024 at 11:09 am (Updated February 13, 2024 at 9:40 am)

Eleven words that speak volumes

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