In partnership with: Comunità di Sant’Egidio
With soaring unemployment and average incomes that are barely enough for adequate housing never mind food and clothing, a third of the Italian population is at risk of poverty and of losing their home. A total of 50,000 people, maybe more, have already dropped below the poverty line and are sleeping on the street.
Homeless people face multiple threats living rough and lose many of the basic rights that homed people take for granted, such as an address granting access to employment, welfare benefits, credit, and medical assistance. Added to this are the lack of social interaction and access to mainstream society that robs them of a sense of self.
Shelters are overstretched and are struggling to provide a temporary roof for both the traditional and the “new” homeless. Food insecurity and housing are not just an issue for men aged 45 to 65 sleeping in doorways, abandoned cars or in derelict buildings because of psychiatric, family, or addiction problems. They are the reality of increasing numbers of single fathers, elderly people living alone, young women with no home or no partner, evicted families, young unemployed foreigners or the working poor.
It is our goal to create lasting solutions for homeless people in our local community. Drawing on pilot projects in the US, this means offering permanent or medium-term accommodation for the most vulnerable among the homeless, rather than relying on short-term shelters. Security and permanency are prerequisites to building a better life, and must be restored to help homeless people regain social and economic independence.
Our pilot project for the homeless – targeting the city of Genova -will be built on three main pillars. The first is to provide a permanent roof in a safe structure for up to 12 people and supply the basic necessities to help them overcome the disadvantages of homelessness, such as food security, a safe environment, the opportunity for social interaction and other services such as language support, child-care, and assistance for the elderly. Once the main building block, a home, has been secured, professionals and trained volunteers will provide psycho-social assistance and customized educational, medical and legal support. The aim is to help people previously living on the street to reclaim their identity and ease the transition back into society. The third pillar is preventive, and will work to raise awareness on the issue, change perceptions regarding the inevitability of homelessness and give the homeless back their voice.