I have been watching this issue of MSM homelessness from the early 2000s just spiral out of control for so long and it is heartbreaking to note that some of us worked so hard and long to arrive at a solution (photo above) to the growing problem when things were far more manageable and the population was docile. Not even a CVM TV discussion on Gay Teens Homelessness earlier in May could stop the captioned from happening as if it were a bid to dress up the situation or damage control for a office-less JFLAG at the time. Now we see repeated spectacles, anti social and criminal behaviour becoming so normative with this group and a JFLAG trying its best to avoid taking responsibility for taking this on earlier than so late in the day. Myself and others who saw the monster coming up the hill from 2007 and even prior to that we warned yet the very shelter that existed was closed to supposedly accommodate JFLAG for an office now they too have found themselves office-less for two months as the men's behaviour and poor management overall led to the landlord taking action. Let us not forget JFLAG was silent when the ultimatum was given by JASL via a board decision to the 12 residents then of the now defunct Safe House Pilot then of the impending doom in 2009/10 hence the men were sent back on the streets and the problems followed from then to now. They never found it necessary to intervene or could not intervene as some persons who sit on JASL’s board then also sat on JFLAG’s Mgmt Cmt as well hence the then Programs Manager turned ED could not and dare not stand up to the authority as he would have probably found himself without a contract. The Executive Director of JASL at the time under whose watch the house was started also resigned or was forced to do so as there were no known infractions against her stewardship hence my reference to the bizarre or dubious decision shrouded in secrecy in previous posts/entries. The very space from which JFLAG was evicted lately was in fact the Safe House Pilot’s residence for the 12+ men and a woman who stayed by another space, the former spaces was taken over no sooner the men had moved.
Here is the 2009 post on the JASL Ultimatum for the closure of the Safe House Project: Homeless MSM to feel the pinch as JASL issues ultimatum
Here is the post I had done in 2010 on the dubious closure of the shelter: The Quietus ......... The Safe House Project Closes
The Safe House Project's background from the conceptualizer …………………
Also we must NOT forget or overlook JFLAG's own shocking exclusion of the homeless men outright from the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia symposium held at the Courtleigh Hotel on May 17, 2013, a decision that has left many wondering a lot of things.
HERE they blame abandonment only as the reason for the men behaving badly when we have the men on record blasting JFLAG for abandoning them prior to the escalation of this all while the agency deceptively issues statements and responses avoiding any responsibility in all of this ugly affair. Repeated stonings at JFLAG/JASL previous offices bear witness to the tense relationship between the men and the agencies yet it is kept quiet. Below are some posts that help to paint a historical timeline to this mess, see others at the end of the entry as well.
see: Street MSM Stone J-FLAG – After Being Cleared From Open Lot
More HERE: JFLAG excludes homeless MSM from IDAHO Symposium 2013 on Homelessness.
I like many others had very high hopes on helping this troubled population to recover in some way and the community based or informal type crisis intervention is not nearly enough to handle the growing numbers of displaced men.
Today the Observer reported:
RESIDENTS of Millsborough Avenue in Barbican, St Andrew say a band of unruly gays who were forcibly removed from an abandoned premises in their community last Sunday, have returned with a vengeance and have upped the ante.
"They are now stealing water from people's properties as the house that they have taken over has been empty for a long while and there is no water or light there. I saw two of them coming out of a house. One of them had a five gallon bottle on his head while another had about four gallon bottles. We can't live like this much longer and again we call on the police to come to our assistance," one resident told the Jamaica Observer.
Despite a police operation two Sundays ago which saw all of the gay men being ordered to pack their bags and go, the defiant men were back by Tuesday, residents say, and have been taunting them and daring them to make them stay away from a community where former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, leading business moguls, the Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica and other well-heeled people call home.
The house at 16 Millsborough Avenue is presently unsecured, as vandals have sawn off the locks and busted open windows, rendering police efforts to remove them permanently useless.
"We would have to put some cops there permanently to ensure that they do not come back. That is unfeasible as we cannot have police at one location in the division indefinitely. The police are stretched beyond their limit. We understand the residents' plight and concerns and will be moving decisively to put an end to this soon. That is all I will say about that at this point. We are facing a serious challenge with these miscreants. We got them out of the golden triangle and now they have relocated and are causing other decent people headaches," one cop from the St Andrew Central Police Division said.But the explanation by the police was of little consolation to the concerned residents who are dying to see the backs of the rowdy gays permanently.
"These boys are very violent and they are not afraid to threaten you with violence when confronted about their unbecoming behaviour. Things are reaching to a boiling point and we are prepared to defend our homes from this invasion of termites. It is very uncomfortable," the resident complained.
A Jamaica Observer news team got a first-hand experience of the violent nature of the violent nature of the gays in question when they went to investigate reports that the police had ordered the squatting gays off the property, after last Sunday's publication of an article in the Observer highlighting the residents' concerns about the outlandish behaviour of the gay men, some of whom the residents say were seen bathing naked on the driveway of the now captured home.
The men, using expletives, attacked an Observer photographer who was taking pictures of the premises and flung bottles, stones and other missiles wildly, even as he beat a hasty retreat to a marked Observer vehicle.
They only retreated when the photographer managed to enter the vehicle which sped off.
The incident has drawn the ire of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) which wrote to Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) condemning the attack and dubbing it an attack on the free press.
However J-FLAG has distanced itself from the untoward behaviour of the homeless gays but not without attempting to explain the reason for their conduct.According to J-FLAG executive director Dane Lewis, there are claims that the particular set of rowdy gays are among some of the country's gays who come from the lower social strata and have been chased from their homes and communities and have always been the subjects of ridicule.
Lewis claims that the gay men have no earning skill and are desperate.
"This particular issue is part of the broader societal problem facing many persons who are affected by high levels of structural instability in communities across the island. The problem is further exacerbated not by the sexual or gender identities of the young men but by the absence of core functional skills that would have been inculcated had they been part of a family, school or community.
"Their abandonment by family and community is therefore most germane to the discourse, not the symptoms of their displacement. These are vulnerable young Jamaicans in desperate need of help and I would therefore urge your members not to see this event as one to deter them from pursuing their critical role in bringing to light these relevant issues and calling to task all those with responsibility to see to the needs of vulnerable Jamaicans," he said.
Read and listen more below for the dithering and hypocrisies with the population over the years:
A Neighbour's take on the Homeless MSM Matter