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The City shelters homeless people at the Caserne des Vernets

The Caserne des Vernets has been made available to the City of Geneva in order to provide 24/7 shelter for homeless people. Implemented by the organisation for the coordination and management of municipal intervention and support services in exceptional situations (ORCOC), the Social Service (SOC) and the Fire and Rescue Service (SIS) of the City of Geneva, this accommodation will be maintained throughout the health crisis linked to the development of the coronavirus pandemic.

Caserne des Vernets - réfectoire

Since the beginning of the crisis, shelter provisions have already changed, with the opening of sports halls and the Frank-Thomas Emergency shelter making it possible avoid overcrowding.

With the opening of les Vernets, the City has given itself the means of enhancing the protection of the health of the people offered shelter while also protecting the population as a whole through a public health measure. The City has obtained the close collaboration of the health authorities and specialists in pandemic response. Two buildings have been made available. One of them is equipped to house people infected by Covid-19. At present, some 255 beds have been installed in the Caserne des Vernets. The Mayor, Sandrine Salerno, and the magistrate responsible for social cohesion and solidarity, Esther Alder, visited the Vernets site this morning to applaud the efforts of the teams working in the field.

It should be recalled that a social emergency solidarity service is available from monday to friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on 0800 44 77 00 to answer the numerous requests from people looking for shelter, members of the social emergency network or citizens who wish to provide information concerning homeless people in situations of distress. On Thursday 2 April, the people housed at the Varembé Civil Defence shelter will move to les Vernets. On Friday 3 April, it will be the turn of the people housed at the Vollandes Civil Defence shelter to move to the Caserne. Finally, people previously housed at the sleep-ins and currently staying in one of the three school sports halls in Geisendorf and Trembley will be transferred at a later stage. On 20 March, the people living in the Richemont and Châtelaine Civil Defence shelters, comprising women and the most vulnerable people, already moved to the Frank-Thomas Emergency shelter with its 130 single rooms.

The Caserne des Vernets site comprises two main three-storey buildings. Comprising 45 five-bed rooms (225 places), Building 1000 will house people not infected by Covid-19. The beneficiaries will be able to access the building via Quai des Vernets. Areas for group activities will be organised both inside and outside.

Collaboration with the Geneva teaching hospitals (HUG)

Supervision is provided by the professionals of the City’s Social Service, the social and logistical staff as well as the Civil Defence duty staff and security officers. The people benefiting from this shelter therefore have sufficient space in accordance with the social distancing standards stipulated by the Confederation.

Boasting about thirty places (21 single rooms and 3 dormitories of 3 to 6 beds), Building 2000 opened its doors on Monday 30 March. It is used to house people infected by the coronavirus who do not need to be hospitalised as well as suspected cases waiting to be tested or to receive their test results. Homeless people housed by associations can take advantage of this opportunity. These people can be kept in isolation through the use of single rooms. Medical care is provided by nurses in coordination with the HUG. The reception capacity of this building could be increased according to requirements. Those people offered shelter there can access the building via rue Hans Wilsdorf.

Reinforced hygiene measures

Several hand-washing points and additional shower cubicles have been installed at the Caserne site. An admissions tent has also been erected. Admissions are organised between 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. for people who are not registered in the system. Each new person is accompanied upon arrival and is made aware of the general rules and the prevention measures.

Men and women are separated inside the two buildings. In order to comply with social distancing regulations, mealtimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner – will be subject to precise organisation. A luggage store and showers are provided in both buildings. The provisions will doubtless change according to the number of people offered shelter and their profile. They could be adapted to take account of any new measures taken by the Federal Council, such as total confinement.

Used as a festive meeting point during the Antigel festival, the Caserne des Vernets was thoroughly cleaned, converted and made safe in less than a fortnight thanks to the intervention of twenty companies under the direction of the Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Buildings and Planning. The organisation of reception, accommodation and meal distribution on site falls under the responsibility of the Social Service. The City is working with the Médecins Sans Frontières organisation, which provides support and expertise in carrying out this mission against the backdrop of the current pandemic.

Esther Alder, Administrative Councillor responsible for the Department of Social Cohesion and Solidarity, applauds the efforts of the public services and companies which enabled the work to be carried out so quickly. The people concerned will be transferred calmly and in accordance with their situation. The magistrate once again emphasises the advantages of the system implemented at les Vernets which improves the quality of care provided, satisfies the current health recommendations and meets the obvious goal of ensuring public well-being. “During this unprecedented health crisis, the City of Geneva has been forced to rethink its social emergency provisions in their entirety. Today, with the Caserne des Vernets, we are in a position to provide a dignified solution to this major health crisis.”


Manuelle Pasquali de Weck

Adjointe de direction en charge de la communication

Tél. +41 22 418 49 13


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Article modifié le 18.05.2020 à 13:53