Regions shelter homeless during coronavirus lockdown

Homeless man speaks to Madrid social worker about shelter during COVID-19 crisis. Photo: Luis de Vega Hernández / El País
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Regional and local governments across Spain are rushing to get homeless people off the streets and into shelters to minimize the spread of the coronavirus and provide medical attention to those who may contract the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.

In an effort coordinated nationally by 2nd Vce-President and Social Services Minister Pablo Iglesias, and with the help of police, the national Guardia Civil and the Spanish military, homeless people without homes in which they can stay during the “stay at home” lockdown of the ongoing state of alarm declared by the government are being provided transportation to shelters in major cities and towns being run by regional and local government social workers and staff of non-governmental organizations.

In Madrid, more than 150 homeless people are currently being sheltered in a large ad-hoc field hospital set up in Madrid’s massive IFEMA covered trade-show and fairgrounds building facility. Social workers from the city of Madrid are organizing the homeless as they arrive, making sure they’re well informed about the crisis and assigning them beds and meal tickets for eating in three shifts of 50 each. The facility for the homeless in Madrid is expected to expand to 600 beds for the homeless by the end of this week.

► News Sources: El País, Europa Press and La Opinión de Murcia …

In Barcelona, Mayor Ada Colau has announced that the city will fit out a shelter for the homeless within the Fira de Barcelona trade-show centre, with the help of the regional Generalitat government and Spanish military forces assigned to Catalonia during the emergency.

The regional government has committed to erecting the indoor facility at the Fira, while the military will set up the first 150 beds for the homeless. The Red Cross will help staff the shelter, which is expected to be able to house up to 1,000 people with nowhere else to go during the lockdown period.

In Murcia, the Red Cross is working with the regional emergency services in Cartagena to provide food, clothing, shelter and hygiene products to the homeless during the crisis, though the regional government has yet to provide a central shelter to house those on the streets. Church and non-governmental organizations are working with existing homeless shelters to make sure they have adequate space, food and other supplies to meet the demand of homeless people that need to be off the streets during the state of alarm.

In Badajoz, Extremadura, the Catholic church’s Cáritas relief agency is working with the regional government to outfit the Las Palmeras sports centre, providing up to 60 beds for homeless to get off the streets and shelter from coronavirus contagion.

And around the country, towns and municipalities are working with Caritas and local charitable foundations to provide shelter attention to the homeless. In the municipality of Utrera, in the Andalucian province of Sevilla, for example, local authorities have turned to the Hermandad de la Santa Resurrección church foundation to outfit vacant flats to house the city’s homeless during the crisis.

► Click to read more news about Spain’s Coronavirus crisis …

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