1,000 vagrants

Saffrey warns homelessness will skyrocket due to onerous NSRL

Expect homelessness to skyrocket due to the vexing austerity Budget presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last month.

That is the conviction of President of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS) Kemar Saffrey, who is predicting a 150 per cent rise in the number of homeless people in the coming months.

Saffrey is contending that the steep rise in the onerous National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) – from two per cent to ten per cent – and the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions announced by Sinckler in the May 30 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals will drive many Barbadians below the poverty line.

As a result, he forecasted that in very little time some 1,000 people, mostly women and children, will be forced out of their homes and reduced to living on the streets.

“I predict that that we are going to hit the 1,000 mark very soon because if you do the math on the rate of increase from now to the end of the year it is not that far-fetched.

“The most hurtful part is that children, youth and women are going to feature prominently in that increase because even though [traditionally] the men always had high numbers, these three groups are even more vulnerable. Right now I have people sleeping on the street that are actually pregnant. So we are in for a serious problem,” warned Saffrey, who was a participant in this morning’s Global Shapers’ panel discussion on national issues at the Olympus Theatre at Sheraton Mall.

The BVHS founder had earlier said there were about 40 people known to have been displaced when he began working with the homeless in 2007, but between 2012 and last year, 411 people had sought the services of the local charitable foundation which works to re-integrate vagrants and homeless people into mainstream Barbadian society. Saffrey was convinced that the struggling economy was to blame for the increase, which represents a rate of three new homeless people each month.

And he said Sinckler’s plan to tackle the deficit by seeking to raise $542 million in taxes would inevitably result in even greater displacement.

“We have increased taxes, we have added new measures that would affect households and possibly result in unemployment. If you send home a man that is the breadwinner of a household that has five other persons, it is not one person who is at risk, it is all five persons that can end up with nowhere to live. So when Government enacts policies I honestly don’t think that they look at the most vulnerable persons,” an impassioned Saffrey stated.

The homeless persons advocate further accused the Freundel Stuart administration of being out of touch with the gravity of things to come, stressing that no measures were put in place to cushion the impact upon the most vulnerable members of society when the taxes take effect on Saturday.

It was about two weeks ago, after Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett sought to blame the Opposition Barbados Labour Party for the start of vagrancy here, that Saffrey had implored Government not to use the homeless to score cheap political points.

Today, he dismissed as a “joke”, the $3 million allocated to the Welfare Department to assist the disadvantaged, arguing it was hardly enough to meet the demands of those already awaiting welfare assistance, and would hardly scratch the surface given the anticipated increase in vagrancy.

“We need to desperately look at the most vulnerable to see how we are going to help them. It is not about putting
$3 million more to welfare.

“Now ask yourself a question: if the Government already has a backlog of people requiring welfare assistance, you really think the ones that now coming onto the streets are going to get the assistance before those that were in the system before? The $3 million is really no benefit to anybody,” Saffrey charged.


8 Responses to 1,000 vagrants

  1. j Carter June 29, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I would be interested in finding out what the relationship is of these vagrants to their families. Do the ones who are not ailing have income generating skills? Are they resistant to efforts to get them off the street and into more healthy housing arrangements? Are they open to any kind of training? Where would these additional 549 people come from? Why would they leave their present place of accommodation and their family and friends to go onto the streets to live? Are we a society that those of us in better financial circumstances no longer try to help our family and neighbours who are in need? But let me ask you this Mr Saffrey, how much money should be allocated to the Welfare Department?

  2. Jennifer June 29, 2017 at 2:42 am

    Well the last time I checked – no one cared or is going to care. The development of a so call middle class syndrome has penetrated this society and is the perpetrator of all of this misguided belief that things are well with ALL so called bajans. Leaving the poor and vulnerable out to sea, without a life jacket among rough waters and sharks. ALL BY DESIGN AS PART OF THE WEEDING PROCESS. And until this people start dealing with the TRUE SOURCE OF THEIR PROBLEMS things will only get worst. This well orchestrated plantation is not going to get any better anytime soon. Next thing on the SET UP agenda/MENU is assisted suicide clinics. Keep watching. The only way to kill a virus is to kill the CARRIER or remove the nucleus of the CELL.

    • Jennifer June 29, 2017 at 2:54 am

      Then compounded on top of all of this we got headless, monotonous, repetitive, rut GOVERNMENTS who cannot govern their spending or decipher what is necessary to spend money on. Or even find their pooh end to clean it. Just being SITTING ducks, eating finances as they come in and $hitting back in the pig pen. While their legs are being shortened daily, to the point of cutting off which is resulting in poor gait and SENSE OF BALANCE.

  3. Sherlock Holmes. June 29, 2017 at 7:34 am


  4. Alex Alleyne June 29, 2017 at 7:38 am

    @Jennifer (2:42am) Should get some printed posters and stick them to every light post across the Island.
    TOP CLASS , spot on for the year.

  5. Mr. Crowley June 29, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Well said Jennifer…I can hear & feel the frustration in your comments

  6. Belfast June 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I’ve seen something today,(I would not go into specifics) that I’ve never seen in the 40 years since returning to Barbados, and this disturbing incident occurred in the constituency of the very man who is bellowing to Bajan women to get more children.
    There are homeless vagrants, and there are many poor people with nothing else other than a temporary or make shift roof over their heads.
    Barbados, just a nose ahead of Haiti.

  7. Sherlock Holmes. June 29, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Where is the evidence to support your claims Mr Saffrey? Do you suggest the Government allocate the monies to your organization?
    These persons that seek your help, do you have a program in place to help them reintegrate productively into society? Or are they visiting your organisation repetitively? These are just a few questions that have always peaked my curiosity.


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