Minister of Public Works - Salvation Army Emergency Shelter
The Salvation Army has been active in Bermuda since 1896 when Adjutant Lutie Desbrisay first unfurled the Army flag. Over the last 124 years, their presence on the island has grown to many subdivisions and an extensive social services network which provide:
• Meals for the Hungry;
• Groceries for those in need;
• a Thrift Store; and
• Fellowship to seniors.
Without a doubt, the Salvation Army has been an essential beacon of light in Bermuda.
In addition to the aforementioned community services, and probably one the organization is most recognized for, is housing.
For over 55 years, the Salvation Army has provided quality transitional housing and support programmes for the most vulnerable in our society. However, in recent years, due to a lack of maintenance and upkeep, the properties were in urgent need of repairs and upgrades.
It was the number one issue on the agenda when I first met Major Sandra Stokes in February 2019 shortly after her arrival. We discussed in great detail the lack of financial support by successive governments over a number of years to the work of the Salvation Army and the need to renew the outdated MOU between our organizations.
The Public Works Civil Engineers carried out a structural assessment of the buildings and agreed that only a few needed to be demolished, while others required some upgrading.
Today, I am pleased to publicly recognize two local philanthropists, who through their effort and contribution to this worthy cause, made these extensive renovations and repairs possible.
The Government of Bermuda, through the Bermuda Housing Corporation, engaged in a Public-Private Partnership with Mr. Jim Butterfield and Mr. Kirk Kitson to rehabilitate and refurbish the Shelter buildings located on North Street and managed by the Salvation Army.
Throughout this process, Major Dill of the Bermuda Housing Corporation liaised with Mr. Jim Butterfield, who was keen to support with funds and manpower, and it was agreed that the government would match the funding to upgrade the facility. Mr. Kirk Kitson joined the effort, and it was all hands on deck, with a methodical approach undertaken to repair the salvageable buildings one at a time – while the buildings that were beyond repair were demolished.
At the same time, building works were in progress consideration was given on what style of replacement building would be ideal for the site. Many transitional housing options were considered. The Salvation Army and BHC agreed on what the replacement buildings would be. I’d like to thank BHC Project Manager – Mr. Keino Furbert-Jacobs for all the work he did in researching the replacement buildings.
Significant work, including the replacement of roofs, repairs to walls and foundations, and extensive plumbing and electrical work have been completed. Two residential buildings housing the men and women of the Shelter have been remodeled and refurbished, and the central building housing the Administration staff, common areas, and the kitchen were repaired, and renovations to the men’s shelter on North Street have been completed. To date – just over $200,000 has been spent – split 3 ways between Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Kitson and the government.
In addition to allocated funds, Mr. Butterfield & Mr. Kitson secured a number of individuals and firms to provide monetary or in kind support and I would like to thank them now – they are:
C. F. Batson Swan
Gray & Co.
The Hustle Truck
Pembroke Paint Co
Pembroke Tile & Stone, and
In the latter part of 2019, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Community Affairs and Sports and myself, as Minister of Public Works, along with our respective Permanent Secretaries, met with Major Stokes and two visiting Colonels from Salvation Army Canada to discuss the state of the facility at North Street and ongoing support of the Salvation Army in Bermuda.
During this meeting, it was agreed that the project was of the utmost importance, and in order to keep the lines of communication open - quarterly meetings would be held between the Salvation Army Bermuda and the responsible Permanent Secretaries to ensure all operational and building-related matters received the priority they deserved. It was also agreed that the Bermuda Housing Corporation would be the first point of contact since they have expertise in housing – and the technical staff to expedite the execution of any plans.
Furthermore, to support upgrading the facilities, the Government committed to $1 million dollars in capital funding in this year’s budget. In addition to this sizable capital investment, the Government increased its annual grant to the Salvation Army by $150,000 to $50,000 over last year to support additional services.
Ultimately, as it pertains to the needs of Bermuda’s vulnerable and indigent community, the Government’s primary objective is to ensure that the men and women in need of shelter and support have a safe place for refuge.
I would like to again publicly thank Mr. Jim Butterfield, Mr. Kirk Kitson and all those who contributed to this effort – your contribution is much appreciated.
I can say with confidence, that as a result of this Public-Private Partnership and the work that has been done, Bermuda now has the necessary facilities in place to meet that need and a commitment going forward to continue that support.