Jamaican Poverty and Homelessness

           Jamaica became a country and gained its independence from the British August 6, 1962. ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book"). Today Jamaica currently has a population of about 2,758,124 ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book"). Jamaica has many homeless people. The Jamaican economy is made up mainly from tourism, bauxite, and sugar ("Jamaica, Mustard Seed Communities"). Jamaica has a  fairly high unemployment rate of 11.5% ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book"). Over 19% of Jamaica’s population is below the poverty line ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book").

            In the past, the Jamaican government has tried to help the lower classes through social reform but due to the country's economic conditions, the government lacks sufficient funding. During the 1970’s the Jamaican government started building low-income housing but never finished the project (Anderson). The housing units are incomplete, foundations with walls or just the foundation, and many homeless people sleep inside of these partially constructed buildings or add on a makeshift roof and use it as a permanent residence (Anderson). In the 1970’s an economic recession began due to an increasing budget deficit (Danielson). Because of the budget deficit, welfare payments were cut, which affected the lower class drastically. Tourism, which is important to Jamaica’s economy, was hurt because of political violence within the country in the 70’s and again in the 90’s ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book"). Today, the Jamaican economy is faced with several long-term economic problems including high interest rates, exchange rate instability and increasing internal debt ("Jamaica, CIA World Fact Book").

            Many innocent Jamaican children are the victims of poverty. Parents that have handicapped children generally abandon them because they do cannot afford the extra expenses to take care of them ("Jamaica, Mustard Seed Communities"). Public education is not the same in Jamaica as it is in many other countries around the world. Students are charged a registration fee, which is more like tuition and is used to cover uniforms, books and lunch (Anderson). Unfortunately, poor citizens of Jamaica often cannot afford this registration fee and do not attend school. Children who do not attend school are not only denied education but also healthcare. In Jamaica, after age three health care is provided at schools (Miner).

            Poverty-stricken Jamaicans typically live in shacks or are homeless and bare harsh living conditions. In Riverton City, the location of a garbage dump, 5,500 Jamaican’s live in shacks and do not have any plumbing (Anderson).  The people of Riverton City rummage through trash as soon as it comes off the garbage truck and collect anything that they can reuse or sell (Anderson). The problem of poverty and homelessness in Jamaica increased significantly during the 1970’s, shortly after the country gained political independence, and is still a major problem today.


Sources Cited

Anderson, George. “The Other Jamaica: On Pilgrimage With Food For the Poor.”America November 1994: EBSCO Host, 15 April 2006. <http://weblinks3.epnet.com.ezproxy.mercyhurst.edu/>

Danielson, Anders. “Economic Reforms in Jamaica.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs Summer/Fall 1996: EBSCO Host, 16 April 2006. <http:web105.epnet.com.ezproxy.mercyhurst.edu/>

“Jamaica.” CIA-The World Fact Book. 29 March 2006. 18 April 2006 <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/jm.html>

“Jamaica.” Mustard Seed Communities. 18 April 2006 <http://www.mustardseed.com/locations/jamaica.html>

Miner, Dianne. “Jamaican Families.” Holistic Nursing Pratice Jan/Feb. 2003: EBSCO Host, 15 April 2006 <http://web110.epnet.com.ezproxy.mercyhurst.edu/>





Many poor Jamaican communities do not have plumbing. The woman in the picture is gathering water to wash clothes.





Many poverty-stricken Jamaicans live in shacks similar to this.










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