Figures arrive daily on the impact of covid-19 in Portugal, showing that the times ahead will not be easy, so it is urgent to look at what is being done in Lisbon and Portugal to support more vulnerable audiences, including the homeless. The truth is that the complex situation in the capital of the country was already a reality before the onset of this health crisis, due to the inertia of autarky and the field of social rights during nearly three years in power. Had they acted in a timely manner, at the start of the current social and humanitarian catastrophe, Lisbon would have had a much smaller number of vulnerable and homeless people.
Starting with the way in which city council saw (and insufficiently supported) the Housing First program. This program focuses on empowering people, with the home being the initial tool (but not the only one) for their inclusion. It is therefore a response for people in extremely vulnerable situations, for whom the existing solutions in the social support network are not suitable.
A challenge for Lisbon: the homeless cannot return to the streets
Last week, PAN had the privilege of visiting one of these houses, delivered by the CRESCER association, and we cannot remain indifferent to the lack of an integrated strategy on the part of the municipal executive! It is enough to see that the social rights adviser, Manuel Grilo, of the Bloco de Esquerda, declared in an opinion article in this same newspaper that in order to guarantee a roof to these people, it is necessary to mobilize first and only later public real estate and the private sector, required, build municipal housing. It is important to clarify that the homeless do not simply need a roof, requiring differentiated responses, and therefore these situations cannot be confused with the obvious lack of investment in public housing in our country. country, which affects many people. other layers of the population, especially now in the context of the crisis we are going through.
A clear example of the lack of understanding of the program in question is the fact that the Lisbon City Council has given priority to the allocation of these houses and to this type of monitoring under the Housing First scheme to people who , due to the drop in income, found themselves without a house, for which social housing is necessary (which is very lacking in our city), but not this specific type of response.
Withdrawing the necessary resources from one side to allocate them to the other is not a lasting solution! From the first moment, the PAN Lisbon Municipal Group has defended the “Housing First” programs as one of the main instruments of this problem, having successively, since 2017, presented proposals in this regard. However, Mr. Alderman did not even sit down to listen and discuss the proposal. Neither on that date nor later, when we insisted again in 2018 and 2019.
The best of Público by email
Subscribe to newsletters for free and receive the best news and the most in-depth work from Público.
Poverty, like housing, are issues that require a multisectoral approach, and this should also be reflected in government options. Because it is important to remember that Portugal is not Lisbon and that it is a reality present throughout the national territory, so it is time for the government to assume the commitment it made when the proposal of PAN to extend this program to the whole country has been approved at the level of the state budget for 2020. We cannot understand how, after almost a year, and in the face of a crisis that has left more people vulnerable , our proposal did not see the light of day.
We are tired and tired of hearing the same promises every year, both from the Lisbon City Council and from the government, without making concrete and structural progress in the fight against poverty, especially in favor of the homeless. When an effective response to those who need it most?
The author writes according to the new spelling agreement