Evicting the Homeless is not the Solution


The following press release from J-FLAG refers to the eviction of a group of homeless gay men from a house in Kingston this week. You may find the link on their website at http://www.jflag.org/2013/07/evicting-the-homeless-is-not-the-solution/. Please share if you would like to. Thank you.

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J-FLAG is deeply concerned about the continued reliance on forced eviction as a strategy to address homelessness among poor and vulnerable Jamaicans.

The police operation to remove individuals from a property on Millsborough Avenue on July 3, 2013 is another example of the unnecessarily brutish treatment of the poor and vulnerable who have no place to sleep.

J-FLAG understands these young men have in some instances been disruptive and acknowledges that the police operation sought to apprehend some who are persons of interest. The organisation condemns the unlawful actions of any person, including members of the LGBT community even if they are homeless, and support appropriate actions by the police in this regard. However, far too often, our response to anti-social and criminal behaviour, especially among individuals who are homeless, ignores the root causes of their difficult circumstances.

A number of the individuals who were recently evicted from the property on Millsborough Avenue are homeless because of violent anti-gay attitudes and abandonment by their families and communities. When we focus solely on their behaviour and removing them from places of shelter we continue to ignore the fact that their circumstances are largely the consequence of abandonment, cruelty, and hostility from those who should love and care for them, including state and other social and welfare services.

J-FLAG continues to stress that our collective response to homelessness has been short-sighted and ineffective. Repeatedly removing people from abandoned properties does not solve the fundamental problem, it merely tells them to find somewhere else to sleep at nights.

Advancing the welfare of all citizens is part of this great nation’s pledge, and in this respect J-FLAG is committed to continue working with all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive and sustainable approach to homelessness in our communities.

The government, private sector, civil society, and church must work together to foster an environment that is safe, cohesive, just, and respectful of the inherent human dignity of all Jamaicans. We cannot rest until we create a stable, empowering and inclusive environment for every Jamaican, especially those among us who are victims of our neglect and intolerance.

Leaving... (Photo: Gleaner)
Leaving… (Photo: Gleaner)
A policeman with a homeless man who has just been evicted from the house in Millsborough, a very "posh" area of Kingston. (Photo: Gleaner)
A policeman with a homeless man who has just been evicted from the house in Millsborough, a very “posh” area of Kingston. (Photo: Gleaner)

13 thoughts on “Evicting the Homeless is not the Solution

  1. I’m highly irritated by the inhumane comments I have seen around the issue. What bothered me more was the clip on the Gleaner’s Youtube Channel, when one of the police officers asked one of the homeless young men, where he lives and he told him and the police officer’s response was well ‘go to Rome’ or something along those lines. These men are human too and they deserve all the respect and regard as any other respected individual in society.

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    1. I totally agree. It is all getting too much, and the media are just feeding the whole thing continuously. I didn’t see the Gleaner report, but a video on the Jamaica Observer website was most upsetting to me. Where (and when) is it all going to end? When will there be equality and respect for all in Jamaica?

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      1. I doubt it will ever end if it does not start at the top with leadership from the higher up. I read Portia of all the people, the queen of the poor talk about she only fly first class and the amount of staff she have, its deplorable. Class discrimination in JA is way too out of control, especially with this light skin, and browning etc… they take it a little too far. 5 years ago I went to a nightclub with local friends, and the door man said I was OK to get in but my friends could not. I flipped – he never knew I was Jamaican and said I don’t ‘look ‘Jamaican’ I reminded him all he was thinking is my complexion but I am 100% black and proud hence why its called, OUT OF MANY ONE PEOPLE>

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      2. Yes, it must start from the top, I co agree. And I agree whole-heartedly on the class issue. One of these days we will have to tackle it! I have heard of incidents like the one you described before. As a Caucasian, I am also acutely aware of it and it’s embarrassing to me (to say the least) – very uncomfortable. I don’t know how many staff our Prime Minister has; but she did declare publicly recently that she would only fly first class – and one surmises that the same applies to top members of her administration (in fact, I have seen this for myself!)

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  2. I find this disturbing since there is no national homelessness strategy in Jamaica, where will they go ? Forget about their sexual orientation but I read some of the comments on the Gleaner web site and that was all it focused on . How did these men get to this stage ? from where did they come ? is there any hope for them ?
    I also think JFLAG could try to take a lead here, with establishing some fund or $$ from the community and build some sort of hostel or something short term to try & rehabilitate these young men. Hopefully then – and a far fetched HOPE – the government would follow.

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    1. Of course there is no such strategy. And that is a large part of the problem – the media entirely focuses on the men being homosexual, and no one is focusing on the plight of the homeless in general, as the press release suggests. They got to this stage because of homophobia, of course. They are rejected by their family and their community (most are from the inner city areas I believe). I am not sure what hope there is for them. Patrick, J-FLAG has tried to take the lead for the last two years or more and have been acutely aware of the situation. They have considered all possibilities. It sounds easy to build a hostel or something. If this was a “normal” country then there would be such options. It proved impossible to find such a place or even a piece of land. And if it was built it would be targeted and the surrounding community would reject it totally. Where in Jamaica could you build such a home? Fact is, neither the government nor the Jamaican people in general give a damn about homeless people in general. They just want them to go away…somewhere else. 😦

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      1. Thanks for replying, Emma. I guess I know all along but there is always hope. I am running out of hope. I am Jamaican and no matter what will always be proud of Jamaica. I guess I am caught in the middle of it all – I have coworkers with super high incomes and wanting vacations in my homeland, right now I am planning a family of 6 whose budget is c$26,000 for 2 weeks at Christmas time! I am scared for 2 reasons: the violence & crime if anything should happen due to my planning and insistent to visit this lovely island and secondly the unearthly inhumane behavior of society with barbaric tendencies not just to gays – but to women, children and the homeless.
        I chair 3 group homes here for kids, adults of all persuasion in Canada. Are there group homes in Jamaica ? like for runaway kids or sexual abuse individuals ?

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      2. It is crazy, difficult and confusing for Jamaicans living in and outside of Jamaica. I am sure your love for your homeland will always remain. Of the two reasons for anxiety that you give, in some ways it is the second one that I find most pernicious. If you are careful and thoughtful, you can avoid crime. But the callous behavior of some Jamaicans is very hard to deal with. Having said that, I am sure the family will have a wonderful time – Jamaica is SO beautiful at Christmas time! I am not aware of any such homes in Jamaica. There are a number of government and private children’s homes all over the island, for abandoned, orphaned and unwanted children. Many are victims of sexual abuse and neglect. The Alpha Boys’ Home in Kingston (which is wonderful) does try to rescue street kids. Thanks so much for your comments, your interest and concern! All the best.

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    1. I know, it is tragic. The photographs and the extensive television coverage brought tears to my eyes. And of course it is just literally “moving” these “nuisances” somewhere else… These are truly the outcasts of society.

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