Good afternoon and thank you so much for joining us on the occasion of World Homeless Day.
This day is observed internationally on October 10th each year.
World Homeless Day aims to raise awareness about the needs of people who currently experience homelessness and promote a compassionate approach to alleviating their challenges.
There is no common international definition for homelessness, but it is generally defined to include persons who lack stable and appropriate housing to the extent they are living without suitable shelter.
A person can be homeless for a number of reasons. We know that there is substance abuse; mental health issues; domestic abuse; breakdowns in the family; poverty or just a detrimental pathway that has caused an individual to fall on difficult times, rendering them homeless.
Over the years, successive administrations have sought to implement solutions to Bermuda's homelessness challenges. But to date, there has been no sustainable solution.
What is clear is that the Government alone cannot end homelessness in Bermuda. A long-term strategy is what is required that involves the partnership of Bermuda's many service providers, stakeholders and support organisations.
I am pleased to advise that our Ministry has been working tirelessly over the last year on a sustainable plan to end homelessness in Bermuda. To date it has been bearing fruit. You might be thinking a plan to end homelessness is an ambitious one, And I would agree it is. Homelessness solutions should be in the forefront of our communities' minds, I am sure we all know someone who has experienced the vulnerable state of homelessness. Human displacement is not only a housing issue, but also an intricate topic that requires a supportive system to resolve.
I am pleased to share that the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors, established a Homelessness Advisory Panel comprising of public, private and non-profit representatives earlier this year to address this critical issue.
Also, I wish to highlight the works of the charitable organization HOME which opened its doors in October 2021 with a vision to end homelessness in Bermuda.
I also would like to acknowledge the many agencies, who partner in finding solutions to address homelessness and help to transition persons out of homelessness. Together, we have all been working collaboratively during the past year to develop a plan to end homelessness in Bermuda.
And we want the community to get involved in what we are planning for our homeless population. To that end, the Government has launched the Community Perceptions Survey on Homelessness in Bermuda, to gather valuable insights and perspectives from the public to inform our strategies and actions.
I encourage the public to visit www.forum.gov.bm and share their feedback on this important survey.
So today as we mark World Homeless Day, we are pleased to draw attention to the needs of people who experience homelessness in Bermuda. This international day serves as a platform to advocate for improved policies and resources that can help prevent and end homelessness.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the HOME Steering Committee, STARR/Lighthouse, Teen Haven, Transformational Living Centre, the Salvation Army, Dignity House, Solstice, and the Bermuda Housing Corporation for their collaboration and months of dedication to developing a plan to end homelessness.
All of these combined efforts will truly make Bermuda a safe, affirming and dignified place for all.