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Homeless in Funchal

The Funchal Council (CMF) has recorded ninety-four cases of homelessness in the capital.  In response to the CMF’s findings, Madalena Nunes, councilwoman for Social Development, has said that they are currently looking at several options which will provide better care solutions for homeless people.

According to data released from the Friendly Conversation Association (ACA), seventy-two of the ninety-four people sleep out on the streets at night. The remaining twenty-two, are considered ‘without a home’ as they are staying in temporary accommodation.  Of the ninety-four, four are foreigners ( English, Guinean, Polish and Spanish).

To combat this problem, the regional councillor for Social Development told newspapers that the municipality has ‘sought to complement the action of the Regional Secretariat for Inclusion, Social Affairs and Citizenship, by focusing on the situation as a whole and not just responding to emergencies.’

The councilwoman stressed that the council has ‘funded partners’ who help homeless people get off the street.  These are the Friendly Conversation Association (ACA), Porta Amiga (AMI), Support Centre to the Homeless (CASA) and Protective Association of the Poor.  And that several measures are being undertaken to ensure inter-agency cooperation, ensuring that valuable resources are not wasted by duplicating efforts.

The municipality has also implemented their ‘solidarity lockers’ project.  Where technical teams assist the homeless both day and night to safeguard their social rights, help and  support individuals when requesting assistance and documents from public institutions, medical treatment or helping then resolve any problems they may have with the Public Security Police (PSP).

Madalena Nunes stressed that ‘Funchal leads the way in dealing with social problems such as homelessness, by dealing with the problem in a dignified manner and creating initiatives aimed at helping those in need.’  She also said that the solution ‘will always be for institutions to optimise their networking programmes, overcome any lack of institutional openness, and finally, focus on workable solutions to help get people off the streets, and not just tackle ‘emergencies when they arise.’

When asked by reporters a spokesperson for the Regional Government of Madeira stated that, for the period 2019-2023, its priority is to ‘protect and reintegrate homeless people through the current partnership support networks.  Also by expanding the network of partnerships and social responses they hope to create innovative projects of social inclusion for the homeless, and strengthen the street teams who identify and support homeless people.’

Finally the Regional Government has called for the establishment of a night care centre, the integration of homeless people into employment programmes, and a pilot housing construction project for permanent housing.  These ‘new measures’ which were launched in May 2018, under the Plan: Integration of Homeless People, has already achieved a 70% success rate in its first year.

On the 18th of November,  the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo declared his support to the Regional Government in their ‘common goal’ of ending homelessness by 2023.

Samantha Gannon

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Madeira Weekly