After three months of living on the streets, Justin Roopchan, his wife Tiffany Sylvester, and their two children, Abby, two, and Jordan, one, finally have a place to call home.
Their story was highlighted in the Monday Guardian and by Tuesday morning, the family received a call, telling them three months’ rent would be paid by a good Samaritan.
They have also received donations of clothing, baby supplies, furniture and groceries.
Yesterday, while Guardian Media was visiting the family, officers from the Piarco Police Station arrived, bringing with them several bags of groceries and the receipt for a refrigerator they had purchased for the family.
Roopchan, 29, was overcome with emotion.
On Saturday night, Roopchan and his family were sleeping on the sidewalk in San Juan when WPC Giselle Serrette stopped and enquired about their situation. Serrette put out an appeal on social media for assistance for the family when she learned they were homeless.
Since then, Roopchan said his life has changed for the better.
“After months of being homeless, within the space of three days, thanks to you all, we end up getting a place to stay. We were so thankful when we hear that good news, it is just so shocking to us that everything would have happened so fast but we are really thankful,” Roopchan said.
His family became homeless in April when their rented apartment with all their belongings burnt to the ground in an accidental fire.
Roopchan lost his job soon after.
He contacted the Ministry of Social Development for assistance and was given a rental assistance grant, which covers three months’ rent at an apartment.
They moved into an apartment in Arima, but Roopchan said despite his best efforts, he was still unable to find a job amid the COVID-19 economic pressures.
The family was given another three-month rental support grant but in August, the apartment’s owner told them he had not been paid by the State and he asked them to leave.
They have been sleeping on the streets since then.
Yesterday, Roopchan said he wanted to send out this message to the public “Not everyone you see out there, is who you think they is. If you see someone out there, you have to really get to know them and ask them what situation they in. Never judge anyone just by seeing them and how they look, whether is a family with kids or single or a couple by themselves.”
He said citizens must remember to be kind to each other.
Meanwhile, Social Development minister Donna Cox told Guardian Media her ministry’s records showed Roopchan received a COVID-19 assistance grant and a food card in August.
She said Roopchan did not present the ministry with sufficient documentation to receive a rental assistance grant.
Cox said her ministry will continue to work with the family to assist in any way it can.