The homeless in Barbados will now have a place to comfortably rest their heads following the official opening of the shelter by the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH), formerly the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS).
The new shelter, located in Spry Street in The City, will accommodate up to 90 persons with a maximum of 20 women and 10 children.
The Homeless Shelter and Rescue Mission was opened on Sunday evening and President Kemar Saffrey told attendees the organization needs the financial commitment of ordinary Barbadians and the business community in order to keep its doors open.
He explained with the assistance of the Maria Holder Trust, the BAEH will be able to cover its $10,000 a month bill for rent but only for a set period. He outlined the annual operational costs for the shelter would amount to $80,000. In addition, Saffrey revealed that Republic Bank had offered to sell them the building where the shelter is housed for $1 million dollars within three years, down from a previous offer of $2.4 million.
He said the BAEH is hoping to remain at the Spry Street location permanently, having had to move twice in the past. He made a plea for funding donors so the BAEH can purchase the building and continue its charitable work.
“For the past ten years we have served well over 670 plus persons that have come and said they are either homeless or a vagrant and more than 1,500 people have come to the organization for services in one way or the other,” Saffrey said, noting the clients were assisted with “limited financing”.
“We have taken 114 persons off the street through that one programme [At a Cross Roads]… where they go through counseling, mentorship and church education programme. We put them back into society, we get them housing, jobs, bank accounts, ID’s, birth certificates, you name it, we do it for them.”
In addition to being offered meals and clothing, clients of the BAEH will also be provided with haircuts, counseling and medical services as well as employment aid.