Hanchell: Govt should acquire vacant buildings to curb rising homelessness

Hanchell: Govt should acquire vacant buildings to curb rising homelessness
Bishop Walter Hanchell

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Great Commission Ministries (GCM) President Bishop Walter Hanchell has recommended that government acquire vacant buildings in order to house the growing number of homeless persons on New Providence, noting that while demand for food assistance and shelter has increased significantly, he has seen donor funding decrease amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has impacted almost every area of the nation, including non-profit organizations and charities. As a result of the economy having drastically slowed down, along with the huge number of businesses that have closed, regular donations have also dwindled. The number of donors has decreased simply because the business community is struggling. Great Commission Ministries depends on the assistance of the general public for regular donations of finances and supplies. Our donor base comprises a number of businesses, churches, a government grant and compassionate individuals who support the ministry, which has been in operation for the past 33 years,” Hanchell told Eyewitness News.

He added, “As a result of COVID-19, we have experienced an increase in the amount of persons seeking help for food and shelter. Funding has decreased while our client base has increased. At times, it has been quite challenging raising sufficient funds to finance our feeding and sheltering programmes.”

Hanchell added that in addition to the hundreds of families who are fed daily with hot meals and grocery donations, GCM has seen a huge increase in the homeless population as a result of evictions.

“A significant number of mothers and their children are living in abandoned buildings and derelict vehicles. Homeless persons on the streets have increased and this situation needs to be urgently addressed. We have stretched our resources to accommodate those who are most vulnerable among us — the poor, homeless and unemployed,” Hanchell told Eyewitness News.

He added, “Some victims from Hurricane Dorian have not yet recovered and we are still assisting those that we can. We are grateful for the efforts of the government in bringing relief to the thousands of unemployed Bahamians who struggle daily, but much more needs to be done.”