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Kendal G.L. Isaacs gym shelter to close

The shelter for Hurricane Dorian victims at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium on New Providence will be deactivated by the end of this month, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell told reporters yesterday.

He also said that he would like the shelter at Bahamas Academy on Wulff Road – the only other shelter currently open on New Providence – to also be deactivated “in the shortest possible time”.

“We’ve continued to work to assist persons to move in with family members, to transition into rental units that we were assisting with and other persons to go back to their original islands,” Campbell said.

“I’m pleased to announce that our work continues and the support that we would have gotten continues. You would have heard recently that we were in discussions with two properties, that was reduced to one.

“Those discussions continue but we’re making good progress, sufficient for me to be able to say that by the end of this month we will be in a position to deactivate the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium and make it available for its original intent, which is sporting activities.

“And so, I want the sporting world and enthusiasts to know that by the end of the month they will have their facility back.”

He added, “The Bahamas Academy will be the last.

“But my hope, notice I give a definitive for Kendal G. L. Isaacs, my hope is that the work we’re doing in assisting persons with rental and the work that is being done with sister agencies in terms of transitional homes and domes in the various islands, will enable us in the shortest possible time to also deactivate Bahamas Academy.”

Campbell previously said, in November, that his ministry hoped to have the shelters deactivated by the end of 2019.

However, Deputy Director of Social Services Kim Sawyer later said the shelters could not be deactivated until the ministry was “comfortable” with where the shelter residents were going; and in the beginning of this year, Campbell said the ministry is obligated to provide shelters as long as people need them.

Yesterday he said that while the number of residents in the shelters continues to decrease, he could not be sure of where some that left had gone.

“At this point, we have about 281 persons at Kendal G. L. Isaacs and less than a hundred at Bahamas Academy – I think the total is about 377,” Campbell said.

He added, “You would appreciate also that the shelters were never intended to be or managed as detention centers, so persons were free to go as they wished.

“You would remember the story of the 10 lepers – only one came back to say ‘thank you’. The other nine…

“So, there have been some who were like the other nine who just left without saying that they were leaving or just didn’t come back, and then there are others who said ‘I am going with a family member’ or ‘I’m going into the rental unit that you assisted me with’.

“So, yes, some persons are leaving a trail and others have just moved on.”

On January 22, the Ministry of Social Services announced it entered into an agreement with Poinciana Inn on New Providence for 50 rooms over a 90-day period, with families staying in shelters to receive priority.

In the meantime, government’s Family Relief Center project on Abaco, in which it would provide temporary residences in the form of dome structures to hurricane victims, is still underway.

As of last month, 40 were in the process of being installed and additional units were expected by the end of January.

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