Lisbon City Council evaluates homelessness plan and hopes for more support

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Lisbon City Councilor for Human and Social Rights, Sofia Athayde, said today that she hopes Social Security will also increase its support for organizations that experience difficulties in accompanying homeless people.

“Under my leadership, the amount was increased from 19 to 21 euros, in a meeting with the entities and in agreement with the entities,” said Sofia Athayde, adding that Social Security, which reimburses the “same entities, will also have to follow” the municipality’s increase.

The councillor elected by the PSD/CDS-PP/MPT/PPM/Aliança coalition was speaking at the Lisbon Municipal Assembly’s (AML) standing committee on Human and Social Rights, Citizenship and Transparency and Combating Corruption, in a hearing via videoconference, as part of the proposal for the Municipal Plan for Homeless People (PMPSSA) 2024-2030.

Unattached municipal deputy Daniela Serralha, elected by the Cidadãos por Lisboa (CPL) movement, asked the councillor if there were plans to increase support for non-governmental organizations that accompany homeless people in the city of Lisbon, who complain that “the amount is manifestly little, it’s manifestly low” in relation to what they receive.

“The associations are distressed, the situation in the city is blatant, it’s frightening,” she said.

The municipal official responsible for monitoring the PMPSSA explained that the document “provides for an investment of 70 million euros” over seven years, “targets 23 objectives, has 89 measures, on five fronts of intervention”, in the sense of “more intervention, intervention in the street context, housing, social insertion, knowledge and communication”.

“This new plan is considered innovative, it provides for an increase in the number of accommodation places made available by the city council, so from the current 1,050 we’ve gone up to 1,700, in other words, we have a 62% increase in places,” said Sofia Athayde.

“Our strategic objective is also to reduce the time spent on the streets for people who are homeless, in this case for people who are also homeless,” she said.

The coordinator of the plan’s team, Paulo Santos, told the municipal deputies that the council is committed to “preventing people from returning to homelessness”, and to creating “a technical street team in the city”, which will make it possible to make “a qualitative leap” with all the services, “from language”, to social and mental health support.
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“To have a multidisciplinary team, so that cases can be discussed more quickly,” he stressed.

Municipal deputy António Morgado Valente (PAN) appealed to the councillor that “the most appropriate response would be to create a public veterinary hospital, as part of the effort to meet the needs of homeless people, and to help them look after their pets.

“The situation is out of control, we’re on the verge of collapse, you only have to walk around Lisbon, you only have to see what’s happening in the historic center of the city to realize that there is no solution according to the program they presented earlier,” said Bruno Mascarenhas, municipal deputy for Chega.

Municipal deputy Margarida Neto (CDS-PP) praised the PMPSSA, noting that the situation of the homeless has taken on “a high profile in the city, which worries everyone”, even though “now they are joined by the usual homeless”, “the large number of illegal immigrants”.

The secretary of the assembly committee noted that the plan refers to “around 400 homeless people and that, among them, there are 28 people who have been on the streets for more than 10 years” and 145 who have been on the streets for around five, the vast majority of whom have “mental health, alcohol and drug problems”, warning that, in many cases, “aftercare fails”.

The councillor said that, in 2022, Lisbon City Council and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa “welcomed 2,744 people” and the figures for 2023 will soon be known.

Sofia Athayde accused the Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) members of the city council of “attempting to take advantage of political considerations over solid technical methodologies, which had been validated by all the city council’s partners”, by approving the PMPSSA with 400 more houses in the “Housing First” project (accompanied transition houses) than planned.

According to the councillor, the plan includes “the forecast and the need to evaluate the ‘housing first’ response”, through “a scientific external evaluation”, given the change in the profile of the people, the 400 contracted houses and “four different entities managing this response”, otherwise “the best possible response will not be provided”.

The proposal was approved by a majority, with the Novos Tempos coalition (PSD/CDS-PP/MPT/PPM/Aliança) voting in favor and the PS, PCP, Livre, Bloco de Esquerda and CPL abstaining, during a private meeting of the municipal executive on Thursday, after the BE proposal was introduced.

The municipal assembly committee will only decide next week whether it will be possible to schedule the PMPSSA proposal for the next plenary session, as some annexes to the document were still missing.

Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert
Hervé Hubert is a 55-year-old writer and journalist based in Porto, Portugal. Born in France, he brings a unique blend of French and Portuguese perspectives to his work. Education Hervé studied Journalism and Literature at the University of Lyon in France. After completing his studies, he gained valuable experience working with various French media outlets (Portugal France also). Career He worked for several years as a journalist in France before making the move to Portugal. In Porto, he joined the Portugal Pulse team as a staff writer. Skills Hervé specializes in storytelling, investigative journalism, and cultural commentary. He has a flair for capturing complex issues in a relatable way. Personal Life He currently resides in Porto and enjoys the city's rich culture, from Fado music to Francesinha cuisine. Hervé continues to maintain strong ties to his French heritage, often traveling back to France for family visits and cultural exploration. With his unique background and diverse skill set, Hervé Hubert adds a layered, multicultural lens to every story he covers.

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