Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr. has proclaimed Oct. 10, as “VirginIslands Homeless Day”to promote greater public awareness of the problem of homelessness and to recognize those who provide care for the homeless in the territory.
Homelessness is truly a global issue, and this designated date represents our territory’s recognition of “World Homeless Day,” a day intended to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and globally, providing opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to this social ill.
“Homelessness is a problem we all must work to solve. None of our fellow Virgin Islanders should be denied a roof over their head or a warm meal. Thankfully, there exist several agencies and organizations that offer programs and services for the homeless, and those who work for them should be commended for their humanitarian service and for building a culture of service and compassion in our community,” the governor said.
As of the last count, the Virgin Islands had over 350 homeless citizens, but there are more people who move between homes of friends and family, living where they can temporarily, who are not counted in that number.
Several government, non-profit, and charitable organizations in the Virgin Islands not only provide shelter and support services, but meals, clothing and other supplies for the homeless, as well. We must continue to encourage everyone to support those in our community who are providing assistance to the homeless, and we must all do our part to help alleviate the suffering that comes with living on the street.
The de Jongh/Francis administration has launched additional initiatives in collaboration with the non-profit community to fund programs aimed at assisting the homeless, including broader strategies to provide permanent supportive housing for those without a home. The government will also, once again, collaborate in hosting Project Homeless Connect events later this month to provide services for the homeless population throughout the territory.
Members of the community are encouraged to volunteer at the upcoming Project Homeless Connect events. For further information and to sign up to assist in the St. Thomas-St. John District, call 774-1166 and in the St. Croix District, call 773-1404.
The Project Homeless Connect events will be held on St. Thomas at the UVI Health and Fitness Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 14; they will be held on St. Croix at the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agriculture Station from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 28; they will be held on St. John (for the first time) at the Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 21. Various services will be provided for the homeless, including medical and social services.
DeJongh encourages all Virgin Islanders to join him in observing Homeless Day, and thanks those who offer care to our territory’s neediest citizens.