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Government developing plan aimed at ending homelessness

Coordinated approach: a man’s personal belongings can be seen outside a Hamilton office building (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A strategy to end homelessness in Bermuda is on course to be released before the end of the year, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, said homelessness was a growing problem on the island and a highly coordinated approach was required to address it.

Ms Furbert said that research by Home, a charity dedicated to tackling homelessness, suggested that as many as 650 people in Bermuda may be homeless.

She added that while efforts have been made over the years to address the issue including a study in 2000, the creation of a committee in 2007 and a transitional housing think tank in 2018, there was no sustainable strategy in place.

Ms Furbert said that the ministry has been working with Home and other stakeholder groups to create a holistic plan with a homelessness advisory panel created in May.

“The work plan is a guidance document about how we will produce a strategy for homelessness,” she said.

She added that a community survey on homelessness will be posted online next month, with an expected launch on October 3.

Ms Furbert said that the panel is hard at work creating a work plan which it hopes to release publicly before the end of the year.

“There are many components,” she said. “I believe our government has demonstrated many initiatives. The Salvation Army facility on North Street has been significantly upgraded and that has been in the public domain.

“The Government has also made a commitment to create housing options. The plan deals with many aspects of homelessness.”

While Scott Pearman, the opposition spokesman for finance, questioned the decision not to open the storm shelter to support the homeless in the midst of Hurricane Lee, Ms Furbert said it was a decision of the Emergency Measures Organisation.

“I am satisfied that the acting ministry gave a very involved public statement in regard to the decision making tree of the use of the emergency shelter,” she said.

“I want the community to know that the team was ready to mobilise at any point for an emergency shelter. That was a decision of the EMO, but we were ready to mobilise.

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Published September 23, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated September 23, 2023 at 7:56 am)

Government developing plan aimed at ending homelessness

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