Political parties preparing for the general election due by the middle of this year are being reminded that the homeless also have a vote and they plan to use it.
Head of the Barbados Vagrants’ and Homeless Society (BVHS) Kemar Saffrey today revealed that his organization had been doing all it could to ensure the homeless would be qualified to vote come Election Day.
And he threatened that they would punish any party that was big on promises, yet delivered little.
“We have already checked with the Electoral and Boundaries Commission and they [the homeless] could use here as their home address because they already use it at a mailing address. So homeless may be voiceless but they are not vote-less, so they will have an impact in this election as everybody else. We don’t want promises because the homeless are not going to go out and vote on promises, they are going to vote on things being done,” Saffrey said this morning during a news conference at BVHS office on Tudor Street, The City.
The homeless advocate said the BVHS had a roll of 497 people, over 300 of whom were from St Michael constituencies, followed by Christ Church, St Thomas, St Philip and St Andrew, all of whom “will have the opportunity to vote so that they could be counted”.
Chairman of the National Assistance Board (NAB) Dr David Durant said last week that some homeless men would soon have a 24-hour facility where they will learn skills to help their reintegration into society.
He said the centre would also make provision for drug rehabilitation, diet and exercise.
However, Saffrey said his organization had been pleading with Government for a facility of this nature for many years and all it got were unfulfilled promises.
Therefore, he said he was skeptical of this promise from the NAB chairman on the eve of a general election, and raised doubts that anything would be done before Parliament is dissolved no later than early next month.
“We have proposed this to the Minister [of Social Care] in the umpteen meetings we have had and while we are pleased to see the promise, we would be more pleased to know when it is going to be done. We would like to be able to tell the persons on the street with certainty that there is going to be an opportunity for them to get off the street . . . .I am frustrated with the promises and I really don’t care for them at this time because the homeless are seeing us as the only resort and they are frustrated,” Saffrey said.
“Even though we are in the silly season we want to know when it is going to be done. A promise is only a comfort to a fool,” he stressed.