Friday 6 December, 2019

BVHS concerned about rise in homeless females

President of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS), Kemar Saffrey has expressed concern about the high number of incidents of homelessness among women and children.  

Saffrey spoke to reporters during a press briefing where he said numbers are on the rise. He said the last count conducted by the BVHS showed there were 555 homeless persons in the island, out of which 99 were females and 16 were children.  

“We have to worry about the mothers that are bringing children on the streets, some are coming pregnant, some are coming pregnant and with child, some are sleeping on patios. They are calling every day to say their situation... and I would not like to see it surpass a certain number." 

Equally worrying, Saffrey noted, was the number of young men who were quickly becoming vagrants after only a short time on the streets.  

He said there needs to be “serious intervention” for these ones who he speculated were succumbing to drug use, job loss and family issues.  

“The young people are becoming more mentally unstable faster, whereas you see an elderly male, they are not getting to that level of vagrancy so fast. The younger fellas are at the level of what some people will call ‘prickle’, they are just becoming crazy.” 

He revealed for the month of August this year, there were eight reported cases of homelessness. He said this number was a decline over previous months with some months seeing as many as 17 reported cases of homelessness.  He said the June to September period usually saw a spike in homeless cases and numbers fell off around December. 

Saffrey said with the austerity measures outlined by the Mottley-administration to take effect soon, the BVHS will have a significant burden on their already limited resources.  

“We have seen it with the last administration with the high amount of people who were laid off from government. With additional austerity measures … there is going to be a serious increase, especially on us because more persons, if the landlord does not want to wait until they get another job, are going to become homeless and they are going to come here.” 

He added even outside of homelessness, persons were seeking out the services of the BVHS for food and clothes and he hoped government, the private sector and other non-governmental organizations would step forward to assist with funding. 



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