“The aids on the ground are suffering”

In many places, food banks are closing for the needy © addkm (shutterstock)

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities has warned that the Corona pandemic poses a particular danger to the homeless. Food banks are closed, accommodation is a problem and there is a lack of protective clothing.

"Currently, many homeless shelters no longer offer group activities, food outlets are closed, community shelters are closed," the social expert of the Association of Municipalities, Uwe Lubking, told the newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe (Saturday). "Aid on the ground also suffers from a lack of protective clothing, face masks and disinfectants."

Rescue umbrellas also for municipalities

At the same time, the association of cities praised the crisis management of many municipalities. Individual municipalities would house homeless people in vacant hotels, among other places, increase the use of street workers and, as best they can, provide aid workers with protective clothing.

"Cities that have relatively good financial strength can do more than highly indebted municipalities," Lubking said. "The federal and state governments should therefore not only provide rescue parachutes for companies, but also for the municipalities. Then local authorities could more easily rent premises."

Area-wide tests needed

The Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe also underlined the critical situation of homeless people in the Corona pandemic. "Housing is a problem. The is usually organized in shared rooms. This situation needs to be eased," Executive Director Werena Rosenke told newspapers.

"This can only be achieved by providing additional places. Currently, many hotels are empty – there needs to be a nationwide program here to move people to safe places."

What's also needed, he says, are "blanket Corona tests for homeless people and the people who work in the facilities". So far, only individual cases of infected homeless people in the states are known, said Rosenke.

40.000 people sleep on the streets

According to estimates by the federal working group, nearly 700.000 people do not have a place to live. Most lived in shelters, including hundreds of thousands of refugees. Experts estimate that around 40.000 people sleeping on the streets.

Welfare agencies reported many closures of support services in the first weeks of the Corona crisis. Several services for the homeless, such as food banks, clothing stores and showers, are also currently closed, he said.

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