Moedas considers the current situation of homeless people in Lisbon “serious”

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The mayor of Lisbon today called the current situation of homeless people in the city “serious” and “very difficult”, with “more than half” being foreigners, stressing the need for immigration policies to welcome them with dignity.

“We need to say loud and clear that we are an open city, we want to welcome, but we need to have decent immigration policies for these people,” defended the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas (PSD).

Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Alcântara Health Unit, the Lisbon mayor said that the problem of homelessness in the city has worsened since the covid-19 pandemic, recognizing that “the situation is very difficult”.

“At the moment, when we talk about people who are homeless, who have nowhere to go, we’re talking about around 300, a little over 300. When we’re talking about people who don’t have a home, but who are taken in by us, we’re talking about more than 3,000. These are the figures today, but obviously the situation is serious,” said Carlos Moedas.

At the new Alcântara health center, “around 34%” of the 15,700 registered users are foreigners, with 119 different nationalities, which reflects the fact that Lisbon is “a city of diversity and an open city”, the Social Democrat pointed out.

Moedas considers the current situation of homeless people in Lisbon "serious"

“That’s why we really need to emphasize the need to have immigration policies that help people, that give them dignity, because many of these people, more than half, are foreigners and many of them don’t have papers, they don’t have families, they don’t have support, so all of this also needs to be taken into account,” he said.

The mayor of Lisbon said that the current municipal executive has invested “more than in the past in people experiencing homelessness”, highlighting the municipality’s plan in this area for the next seven years, between 2024 and 2030, which foresees an investment of “70 million euros”.

“Today we are able to help and welcome around 1,050 people and our plan is to increase this to 1,700 people we can help,” he said.

The mayor also recalled the opening of the Casal Vistoso municipal pavilion, between January 9 and 14, to welcome people who were homeless due to the cold weather, noting that the municipality managed to “help almost half [of the people welcomed] to find solutions” so that they could stop living on the streets.

“We have housing solutions for these people. We have shelter solutions for these people and, above all, the council’s services. If there’s one council service that works very well, I’d say it’s the homelessness service, because they’re professionals who know these people almost by name,” said Carlos Moedas.

Between Gare do Oriente and Cais de Sodré station, passing through Rossio, in Lisbon, tents and small shelters made of cardboard are gathering, with immigrants outnumbering the Portuguese living on the streets.

All the homeless immigrants approached by Lusa this week were undocumented, although some had left behind a job in the Alentejo.

They’ve come from Brazil, India, Nepal, Morocco, Gambia, Senegal, Angola and many other countries, some of which can only communicate in English, and although life in Lisbon isn’t going well for them, especially with the winter wind and rain, very few of them want to go back to their countries, as they believe they’ll be able to work and organize their lives here.

For the time being, they live off the help of organizations such as the Life and Peace Community, one of the most representative in support of the homeless.

Immigrants in the majority among the homeless on the streets of Lisbon

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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