Fri | Feb 26, 2021

Homeless man struggles to find room for rent

Published:Saturday | January 2, 2021 | 12:14 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Eighty-one-year-old Roy Watson says he has been finding it difficult to find a room to rent in the Corporate Area. He was speaking with our news team after collecting a meal at the mayor’s annual feeding of the indigent for New Year’s Day at St William
Eighty-one-year-old Roy Watson says he has been finding it difficult to find a room to rent in the Corporate Area. He was speaking with our news team after collecting a meal at the mayor’s annual feeding of the indigent for New Year’s Day at St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston.
Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams handing out food to indigent persons at St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston, a New Year’s Day tradition.
Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams handing out food to indigent persons at St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston, a New Year’s Day tradition.
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At 10 o’ clock yesterday morning, scores of homeless and indigent people had already flocked to the gates of the St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston for their annual New Year’s Day breakfast from the mayor.

Among them was 81-year-old Roy Watson, who said that he has been enrolled in the poor relief programme for almost a year.

“One of the inspectors see me down King Street and me used to tell him, ‘How all di while unno run wi off a di street and nutten nah gwaan fi wi?’ Mi spirit jus seh talk to him, and him carry mi up di office,” he recounted.

Since then, he has been getting daily meals and has been encouraged by the Poor Relief Department to find a room and they will cover the rent.

“Mi looking a room, but mi cyah get none, suh me jus kotch wid somebody in Mountain View for the moment,” Watson said.

Watson told The Gleaner that he sells lighters, but the venture does not have much profit-making potential.

“When me buy a box a lighter fi $1,350, me only mek $250 profit, but it still stop me from siddung pan di street and beg a man $10,” he explained.

For the new year, Watson’s wish is not personal as he desires for COVID-19 to be under control and for normality to return to the education sector.

“Di school get a beaten. Mi want di children dem fi learn and in the classroom is the best place,” Watson said.

A 70-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, made the journey from a squatter settlement in Bayshore, St Andrew, for the warm meal.

Hard times

She lost her job as a domestic worker last year and has fallen on hard times.

On New Year’s Eve, she overheard a few people in downtown talking about the plans of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) for the event and made certain that she benefited.

“I am grateful for the food I got today. I don’t have anything to eat at my house, and Christmas I didn’t have anything,” she said.

She continued: “I wish for betterment of my life. I need a likkle board house. I get a likkle place fi mek it up by Stony Hill, but there is no title, so I can’t get Food For The Poor to give me a house on it.”

It is believed that more than 2,000 people across the island are homeless, the majority of whom are found in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew.

Mayor Delroy Williams told The Gleaner that how the KSAMC cares for the homeless speaks to the character of the capital city.

He said that the aim was not just to feed them on a daily basis, as he is quite confident that with the right guidance, many of them can lead normal lives.

“There are some studies we are engaging other organisations to undertake that should help us in caring for the homeless population ... . The issue of healthcare, we can always do better with that, and so that’s another avenue we are looking at,” the mayor said of the KSAMC’s 2021 plans.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com