Concerns for Lisbon’s homeless as temperatures plunge

in World · 10-01-2019 10:58:00 · 0 Comments

Despite the more positive news stemming from Lisbon council, which has estimated that the number of people sleeping rough in the capital has halved from 2015 to 2017, concerns are rising for those still living on the streets as the temperatures this week plunged.

Manuel Grilo, Lisbon councillor for civil rights, revealed news of the Portuguese capital’s improving homelessness figures as he accompanied Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to various spots around the capital where homeless people gather, in the downtown Baixa, near Santa Apólonia train station and later in Xabregas and the Park of Nations.
“In numerical terms, between 2015 and the end of 2017, there was a 50 percent reduction in the number of homeless people actually sleeping on the street”, Grilo said, after the convoy had visited an area of tents and shacks, underneath viaducts near Santa Apolónia.
Dressed down in a long coat and a flat-cap, President de Sousa spent much of last Saturday night visiting the homeless in several locations in and around Lisbon, as he has in previous years.
During his expedition the President promised to “dedicate himself” to determining the best measures to get people off the street and into shelters.

But, the head of state admitted, ending the plight of homeless in Portugal is a lengthy process. At Christmas, the president also attended lunches for the homeless, and warned that the evictions are contributing to aggravate this social reality.
Elaborating on the President’s words, Councillor Grilo said that officials are now undertaking a fresh count of the homeless in the city but admitted that the numbers may not have changed much on last year’s.
Some changes, he explained, could be related, as the president himself commented, to “flows of people coming” into the capital from other parts of Portugal or even other countries, as happened to a Nepalese national, that the president said he would try to get off the streets with the help of the local Nepalese community, from which he is to receive a delegation in the coming days.
However, Grilo said, it is only after undertaking a full survey will it be possible to understand the changes in inflows of homeless people in Lisbon.
With temperatures plummeting over the past weekend and further drops forecast for the coming days, Grilo said, that the council had already taken precautionary measures such as opening shelters from 4pm.
If temperatures drop to 3 degrees Celsius, he added, that triggers the city’s contingency plan, and there are to be other measures such as the opening of Metro subway stations at night and sports halls with a greater capacity to accommodate people, as has been done in the past.


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