Redevelopment Of Emergency Housing Centre

July 27, 2018 | 3 Comments

“Government has given its approval to the redevelopment of the former Bishop Spencer facility for use as a new Emergency Housing Centre, and intends to work in conjunction with the Salvation Army to make this a reality,” Minister of Social Development and Sports Michael Weeks said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [July 27], Minister Weeks said, “Government has prepared a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the consideration of the Salvation Army.

“The MOU seeks the agreement of the Salvation Army to be responsible for the capital redevelopment of the Bishop Spencer facility at an estimated cost of approximately $3.5M.

“The MOU would commit the Government to seek approval of the Legislature to enter into a 99 year rental lease with the Salvation Army, for $1 per annum if demanded, for use of the Bishop Spencer property as an Emergency Housing Centre.

“The Salvation Army would be responsible for ongoing capital and operational costs of running the redeveloped facility at an estimated cost of $1,200,000 per annum.

“Government would provide a total operating grant of $1.2M per year to Salvation Army [inclusive of capital maintenance] to cover operational costs, including staffing and programming, subject to annual review.

“The existing Emergency Housing Complex, situated at 5 Marsh Lane in Pembroke, is a 54 bed facility that offers nightly bed spaces for the homeless.

“It is intended that the redeveloped Bishop Spencer facility have a capacity of between 80 to 100 bed spaces, a portion of which would be transitional living space.

“The building would allow Salvation Army the opportunity to provide one room bachelor apartments as transitional / affordable / supportive living for individuals graduating from the Harbour Light Programme or who have moved through the emergency shelter and are ready to start transitioning back to the community. The expectation is that these individuals would be working and able to pay ‘affordable’ rent.

“Existing programmes that would be relocated to the redeveloped facility include the Salvation Army’s Food Bank Programme and Daily Feeding Programme.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will know that the Salvation Army has provided housing opportunities to the homeless and marginalized members of the community at the North Street Shelter since 1982.

Mr. Speaker, some Honourable Members will also recall that the previous Progressive Labour Party Government was actively doing work to bring about a new homeless shelter. Various options were assessed and choices were narrowed down to two main options: redevelopment of the Bishop Spencer facility or redevelopment of the old Prison Headquarters on Happy Valley Road. A decision was made in favour of redevelopment of the Bishop Spencer facility as the site for a new homeless shelter.

Mr. Speaker, during the interval between the 2012 general election and the 2017 general election, the then One Bermuda Alliance Government did not implement the Bishop Spencer project. Now this Government is following up on a promise made by the former PLP Government prior to the 2012 general election to redevelop the Bishop Spencer facility.

Mr. Speaker, It gives me pleasure to announce to Honourable Members that Government has given its approval to the redevelopment of the former Bishop Spencer facility for use as a new Emergency Housing Centre, and intends to work in conjunction with the Salvation Army to make this a reality. Government has prepared a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the consideration of the Salvation Army. The MOU seeks the agreement of the Salvation Army to be responsible for the capital redevelopment of the Bishop Spencer facility at an estimated cost of approximately $3.5M.

Mr. Speaker, the MOU would commit the Government to seek approval of the Legislature to enter into a 99 year rental lease with the Salvation Army, for $1 per annum if demanded, for use of the Bishop Spencer property as an Emergency Housing Centre. The Salvation Army would be responsible for ongoing capital and operational costs of running the redeveloped facility at an estimated cost of $1,200,000 per annum. Government would provide a total operating grant of $1.2M per year to Salvation Army [inclusive of capital maintenance] to cover operational costs, including staffing and programming, subject to annual review.

Mr. Speaker, the existing Emergency Housing Complex, situated at 5 Marsh Lane in Pembroke, is a 54 bed facility that offers nightly bed spaces for the homeless. It is intended that the redeveloped Bishop Spencer facility have a capacity of between 80 to 100 bed spaces, a portion of which would be transitional living space. The building would allow Salvation Army the opportunity to provide one room bachelor apartments as transitional / affordable / supportive living for individuals graduating from the Harbour Light Programme or who have moved through the emergency shelter and are ready to start transitioning back to the community. The expectation is that these individuals would be working and able to pay “affordable” rent.

Mr. Speaker, existing programmes that would be relocated to the redeveloped facility include the Salvation Army’s Food Bank Programme and Daily Feeding Programme.

Mr. Speaker, the Salvation Army would enhance its current programme offerings and operate an extensive range of social programming activities at the redeveloped Emergency Housing Centre. Examples include:

Employment Training Programme: This programme is envisaged as a collaboration between the Salvation Army, the Bermuda College and the Department of Work Force Development. Salvation Army would coordinate the programme and act as a facilitator for students who require additional social, medical, or spiritual support, and assist them in finding work. The Salvation Army would provide a supportive learning environment where individuals with barriers to employment can have a sense of dignity, self-esteem and hope for their future. Possible training areas could include building services / janitorial; basic retail training; or farming skills. The programme would typically be run for approximately 12 weeks inclusive of a work placement, followed by graduation and hopefully full time employment.

Addictions Programme: In partnership with SA’s Harbour Light Programme, Drug Court and the Department for National Drug Control, Salvation Army would have an onsite Addictions Counselor for regular group meetings for individuals who are dealing with addiction issues. SA would then assess the severity of an individual’s addiction, thus enhancing the level of intervention required and to empower them with the tools/knowledge they need to deal with their issues and integrate them into the community to become productive and law abiding citizens or if necessary move them into the Harbour Light Programme.

Quiet Space / Meditation Area: the importance of offering people space to be quiet, reflect and in which to meditate is recognized. The Bishop Spencer facility would lend itself to such activity, which could be augmented by introducing garden therapy.

Recreation / Workout Area: The facility would include a supervised recreation / workout area providing opportunities for individual workout or group recreational activities.

Mr. Speaker, other innovative programmes that could be offered at the new facility by the Salvation Army include:

Foot Care Clinic: In partnership with the Department of Health the Salvation Army could offer an on-site foot care clinic on a weekly basis for individuals who do not have access to medical services. This would be a very important programme to offer to diabetics and others who have complicated issues with their feet.

Home with a Heart: A 13 week course that helps individuals work through topics such as: organizing their home, budgeting, cooking, personal hygiene, parenting, resume writing and basic job skills.

Community Kitchen: This is a 12 week programme, one session per week, that would run 2 or 3 times per year. The programme would take 6 – 10 individuals. Under the instruction of the Salvation Army’s Family Services Director, persons would learn how to prepare and cook inexpensive yet healthy meals for their family. This would teach budget shopping, cooking skills and healthy lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, this Government intends to support the Salvation Army as much as possible to make the transition of the existing homeless shelter to a redeveloped Emergency Housing Centre become a reality. I will update Honourable Members as this initiative moves ahead.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (3)

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  1. chart says:

    Ok – how many years have they been making this announcement? Since 2014.

  2. I think this is a very large undertaking and needs to be looked at and revamped, It has been stated under previous administrations of Government but it seem’s as they are hell bent in awarding a grant to only one local religious institution.

    The Salvation Army have done great work in Bermuda for years, but the real plight of this situation goes beyond the Salvation Army and it’s ability to handle a bigger homeless facility, This undertaking should be viewed in a more broader sense, and make it so that there is a coalition of Churches that would oversee the new facility and not just the Salvation Army.

    There are several Churches and Church leaders that are more then capable of handling such a task, the issue has never really been about resources as far as man power, it has always been about economics, and the affordability of running such a place, hence this is why we have the present shelter, run by the Salvation Army in such a dilapidated state, because the lack of funding and government grant, which needs to be pointed out that the Salvation still receives to this day, and has been for over a period of 25 years.

    Now some may challenge me on the grant and/or the amount, but the fact remains that the Government regardless who is in power, has always given a yearly grant to the Salvation Army for their work in the community and namely the running of the homeless shelter, but they do not give grants to other local religious organizations who run food kitchen, which gives full meals, and/or churches that give their property and facilities for homeless people to come and take showers, and to wash their clothes in the churches laundry facilities.

    I think of Christ Church in Warwick, The Baptist Church in Devonshire, The Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist in Hamilton, just to name a few that have been very instrumental in aiding our homeless community, all of which do not get a financial grant from Government to assist in the work that they do, so I would advise Minister week’s to look very closely at this and other Churches who are well able to assist in this undertaking, and can see the end of the bias practices of isolating one institution as if they are the only ones capable of assisting and helping our growing homeless community.

    I would like to see the grant being higher then 1.2 Million a year because of the dire straights of so many in our community who find themselves being among the homeless community, and I would like to further see all of our Churches collectively step up to the plate and become a part of a coalition then can help run the new facilities at Bishop Spenser, and truly this would be an honor to the late Bishop Spenser.

    Many Churches are dishearten and have been for a very long time at the bias approach that each Government has taken in regard to this issue, and the majority have given up trying because of the bias-ness that exist, Bishop Spenser location is an excellent choice, for the size of it’s facilities and what it can offer, I hope this correspondence goes beyond the Minister’s desk, and to a wider range of concern citizen, who feel we are once again being duped by a system and another government administration, that it will appear they are doing something to help the lesser person, but in reality, it is another band aide approach to a bigger and wider issue.

    Let this government administration, engage in the conversation will all religious institutions across the island and get a better perspective of what they all have to offer as a collective group, and I will go a step further and say the same can be said in reference to the rehabilitation side of this situation, as there are facilities outside of the Salvation Army that also deals with our people that need these services.

    Thank You Bernews for considering this correspondence, and I hope it is met with other minds who think likewise, and that this matter be reviewed before it is passed in the Senate, send it back to the drawing table, and let all stake holders that should be included have their fair say, and this is also a challenge to those in our religious community, to step up to the plate and let your voice be heard.

    At the end of the day, this is about helping our people and not an institution who continue to make a name for themselves and not really producing to the extent that we can, if we all play a part. A board needs to be set up, of not just religious leaders, but concern Citizens who have the expertise to make this dream a reality. the homeless situation has grown tremendously in Bermuda in the last 15 years, from substance abusers, to folk who can no longer function in our society for many reasons that go beyond substance abuse, I see it every single day, as I am right here, were it all takes place.

  3. Waduhminnit…waduhminnit…is this an emergency?

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