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Date Fri, 20 Mar 2020 10:27:59 +0200

We discuss the situation of the homeless in Poznan during the COVID-19 pandemic with Kornelia Piotrowska, a member of the Board of the Wielkopolska Association of Tenants, a social worker, a street worker and a person who has worked in a homeless shelter for 12 years. ---- Keywords Greater Poland Tenants' Association Homeless coronavirus ---- How many people do you think are currently homeless in Poznan? How large a group of people can the problem concern? ---- An annual homeless number survey is carried out. Last year there were 1030 of them, including 46 children. In my opinion, this is an underestimated value. There will be many more of these people - around 2000. ---- What is the current situation in Poznan homeless shelters?
All applicants receive help. A larger sanitary regime was introduced, systematic disinfection is carried out, hygiene stocks are increased. In order to minimize the possibility of infection, a ban on leaving shelters was also introduced.

What about homeless people outside shelters?

Street workers, for example from the Social Emergency, constantly go on patrols and try to contact the homeless, check their situation, health and what they need. They do not enter into large clusters, but check vacancy, tents on the Warta, etc. They try not to leave the homeless alone, because in such circumstances it is easy to forget about them.

For now, homeless people are also systematically fed, although the formula has been changed to - again - minimize the risk of infection, packaged, portioned food etc. is given away.

Has it been found in Poznan that there are people infected with COVID-19 among the homeless?

For now, I don't know anything about them, that they would be sick among the homeless. It would certainly be publicized right away. The homeless are unlikely to travel abroad, so they couldn't get infected because of it. On the other hand - as we know - they often stay at stations full of people.

What do you think we should do today about the homeless?

It would be good to keep in touch with those places and organizations that directly support the homeless and ask how you can help. The situation changes day by day. The big challenge is to organize life in the centers. It is not known how long the homeless will endure this isolation and definitely more stringent than the one we have without leaving home. Their restrictions in the centers are much higher. You need to work out some actions and determine what to do next.

If the situation is prolonged - which is more and more likely - and will last not two weeks, but two months, and maybe even longer, what are the risks for the homeless?

I must say that it will be a big challenge - to keep people in small spaces in shelters. Such people will be in a difficult situation. It will also be a big challenge for staff. There is more work. This sector was underfunded for years, small salaries of social workers, slim staff. I do not know what will happen next, for example, when the number of homeless people starts to increase and the staff get sick. Greater support from the authorities will be needed. But will it be possible at all?

The situation of the homeless may get worse, but we cannot stop helping them. They are not only at risk of coronavirus, but also other threats resulting, for example, from general health, malnutrition, coldness, etc. It is said that we must watch out for coronavirus infection, but if a homeless person lies in the street, he needs help, we must give it help. We can't leave him. Whatever the risk.

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