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‘We should not be judgmental’ about homelessness – Dias

Andrew Dias, a member of the advisory board of Home, a charity helping the homeless (Photograph supplied)

Homelessness is a social issue that “needs to be addressed by every person in Bermuda”, according to a member of a charity’s advisory board.

Andrew Dias, the CEO of the Bermuda Land Development Company and general manager at the West End Development Corporation, joined the advisory board of the homelessness charity Home about 18 months ago.

Mr Dias said: “We at Wedco assisted Home in using one of our properties to help get them off the ground.

“It was through that that I had numerous conversations about homelessness, and I can’t say enough about how much I’ve learnt and understood.”

Joining the advisory board had opened his eyes to the extent of the problem.

“I was probably like many Bermudians who just thought of the few people you may see sitting on benches at different locations, and that that was the extent of our homelessness,” he said.

“But when you kind of peel back the onion and you start looking at all the layers, it is a real social issue that needs to be addressed by every person in Bermuda.

“It’s also something that we should not be judgmental about. It’s about circumstances.”

Ending homelessness

The Royal Gazette in conjunction with stakeholders including Home has launched its Ending Homelessness campaign to remind 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.

Home has produced a report, Plan to End Homelessness, which is out for consultation and points to issues and solutions to the homelessness problem in Bermuda. It can be seen in Related Media.

Mr Dias added: “I think we have to use the term homeless and then actually stop there and break it down. What is homelessness? And until you are ready to look at it and understand it, you don’t know it.

“You think of homeless as someone that’s just sleeping on the street, but that’s not even scratching the surface of what I would say is the bigger problem, where you have people who are sleeping on couches, you have families that are separated because they financially can’t afford to be together or they’re sleeping in a car.

“There’s just so many different aspects to homelessness.”

Asked if there was an easy fix, he said: “I don’t believe that it’s an easy fix, no. But I do believe it is fixable. Is it ever going be 100 per cent perfect? Probably not, you’re always going have new challenges and new situations.

“But I think that Home is an amazing organisation. There’s a lot of people behind it, and it’s a good time for awareness around this to grow.”

Homeless numbers

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

According to Home, 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.

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Published February 22, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated February 22, 2024 at 8:29 am)

‘We should not be judgmental’ about homelessness – Dias

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