Lisbon provides “temporary home” to help working homeless become independent

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An empty space in Bairro do Armador, in the Lisbon parish of Marvila, has been transformed into a “temporary home” that can accommodate up to 15 homeless people who work but cannot access housing.

Called the “Municipal Employment and Autonomy Unit”, the space was inaugurated today by Lisbon City Council, in partnership with Crescer – Associação de Intervenção Comunitária, which will be responsible for the project, providing nine rooms, six of which have two beds, a kitchen, living room, laundry and shared bathrooms.

“Today we are opening an innovative project here,” said the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas (PSD), explaining that the idea is to “give a home” to homeless people who are already working, helping them for an average period of six months until they find a housing solution so that “they can be autonomous”.

The mayor also explained that people who stay in this space have to give 30% of their income per month, but this amount is returned when they leave: “With this money they can already pay a down payment or a deposit for a rental contract”.

In addition to temporary accommodation, the space has a room for social services and support, psychological support and active job and/or housing searches.

The property, managed by the municipal company Gebalis – Gestão do Arrendamento da Habitação Municipal de Lisboa, was empty and underwent works to implement the project, giving dignity to the space so that “people feel they are in their own home”.

“Housing has always been our priority, but along with housing we have people experiencing homelessness,” said Carlos Moedas, highlighting the Municipal Plan for People Experiencing Homelessness (PMPSSA), which foresees an investment of 70 million euros over seven years, between 2024 and 2030, with 81 measures.

The mayor defended the need for a “strategic change” in the response to homelessness, through prevention and social inclusion, considering that the project inaugurated today could be the start of “a new cycle” in responding to this problem.

“I hope we can continue this project in other parts of the city. We will certainly continue it, because this is the way forward, integration through work and housing,” he said.

The mayor also said that after the covid-19 pandemic there was “an increase in the number of homeless people”, which also affects “many foreigners […], who often have no documentation, and there is a very important role for the central state”.

“We can’t receive immigrants without bringing them dignity,” he said.

The executive director of the Crescer association, Américo Nave, stressed the importance of “differentiating the responses” to people experiencing homelessness, so that “they are not all in the same responses”, because there are people who are working, people who are not working, people who have mental illness or people who have addictive behaviors.

“This response will address a very specific group: people who make a huge effort to become autonomous,” said Américo Nave, noting that the project came about because “many people” who work in the Crescer association’s restaurants “find it very difficult to have a roof over their heads, to have a home and make a huge effort to be able to work every day.”

The space in Bairro do Armador, in the Lisbon parish of Marvila, will start welcoming people from next week, but the occupation will be gradual, so that there is time for the various parties involved to get used to each other, including a social worker and a psychologist from Crescer, a team that has to deal with the issues of employment, future housing, access to health and “deconstructing all the barriers that may be hindering people’s autonomy”.

The councillor for Human and Social Rights, Sofia Athayde (CDS-PP), said that the project came about after a visit to an area with many homeless people and stressed that the aim is to give them pre-autonomy so that they can then become autonomous.

Present at the inauguration, the president of the Marvila Parish Council, José António Videira (PS), thanked the mayor of Lisbon for his work and stressed that, despite being of different political persuasions, both prioritize responding to people.

“It was very easy to tell my people why an employment and autonomy unit was coming here. Because homeless people don’t come here, people of flesh and blood come here, who need to be welcomed, who need to be integrated, and there needs to be gestures of solidarity from the community in these difficult times we live in,” said the socialist.

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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