Woodbrook residents complain of increase in homeless people

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

WOODBROOK residents are concerned about an increase in socially-displaced people taking up residence on the streets in the area.

At the Port of Spain Corporation monthly statutory meeting at City Hall on Friday, resident Sterling Piper complained to Mayor Joel Martinez about this new development, saying it left residents feeling uneasy and, at times, unsafe.

He said, “We also have movement of vagrants from Port of Spain into Woodbrook and because of the restaurants around there, they are encouraged to be there.

“We are also seeing the movement of street vendors and we’re not seeing any police trying to deter them, They are causing havoc with the people who use the pavement and also drivers.”

Martinez said the police would monitor the increase of street vendors.

On the homeless, he explained that even though his corporation was not responsible for removing street dwellers, he will try his best to have this long-standing issue addressed.

“To hear the homeless people are now moving towards Woodbrook, this is not a good thing. We have to ensure that that does not become a norm.”

But, he said the corporation’s hands are tied and called on the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to step up.

In 2021, an agreement was made between the corporation and a non-governmental organisation, which also saw the intervention of Social Development Minister Donna Cox, for the re-opening of a shelter at the Riverside Plaza carpark.

In January, Martinez announced the two sides had made peace, after mediation, and agreed to work together to get the facility running to get the homeless people off the street.

However, a year after Cox handed over the keys, the facility remains closed.

Calls to Salloum and the minister went unanswered on Friday.