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Emergency shelter: the City of Geneva reasserts its commitment

From 1 April, the City of Geneva’s emergency shelter measure will be focussed on a single site, the Frank-Thomas shelter. This facility provides people living in dire need – generally women and people with health problems – with single rooms. At the time of the year when the Civil Defence shelters traditionally close their doors, the City now – for the first time – boasts a year-round facility allowing almost 130 people to be given shelter.

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Plateau repas offert par l'aide sociale

With a budget of 15.3 million in 2021, the City has increased its commitment significantly over the past two years. Contrary to the announcement made in a press release today by the associations active in the field of social emergency, the distribution of free hot meals in place since 23 November at the Plainpalais community hall will not be brought to an end. The distribution will continue at the Salle des Asters from 1 April.

Following a year marked by semi-confinement and the opening of the Caserne des Vernets from 1 April to 30 August 2020, the measure was adapted to the health constraints from 1 September. Two Civil Defence shelters, each offering 50 places, welcomed some 1,204 people while the Frank-Thomas shelter hosted a further 376 people for a total of 39,120 nights. In addition to this, the associations have been granted a total of CHF 7.2 million in subsidies. Furthermore, the “extreme cold plan” was activated twice this winter.

Social emergency policy

In financial terms, a budget of CHF 12.6 million was allocated to the social emergency policy in 2019. In 2020, in light of the pandemic, Christina Kitsos submitted a proposal for additional funding of almost CHF 7 million, for the most part approved by the Municipal Council, all parties included, to address the costs linked to the Caserne des Vernets and make provision for the end of the year. The aim was also to avoid the spread of Covid while providing access to people who had contracted the virus.

In 2021, after numerous negotiations, the approved social emergency budget has increased to 15.3 million, including 855,000 francs for “Le Passage” shelter operated by the Salvation Army (some 300,000 francs more than the sum originally announced), one million for le CausE and 250,000 francs for the Aux6Logis association, representing an increase of almost 2 million.

Outstanding capacity for adaptation

The Department of Social Cohesion and Solidarity has displayed an outstanding capacity for adaptation by organising care for people at the Caserne des Vernets and preparing the Frank-Thomas centre in record time. The municipal services are working with the Department of Planning, Construction and Mobility, under the aegis of Frédérique Perler, to identify a solution to replace the Frank-Thomas centre which will close in 2022 to make way for the neighbourhood site of the Eaux-Vives railway station.

This same reactivity has enabled the Social Service to organise the distribution of hot meals at the Plainpalais community hall, which started on 23 November 2020. Since then, an average of 100 breakfasts and 120 meals have been served in these heated premises every day. Almost 30 breakfasts and 110 lunches have been provided as a take-away. On 1 April 2021, this service will move to the Salle des Asters, once again bearing witness to the City’s desire to be faithful to its historic commitment in favour of the most disadvantaged individuals.

Financial commitment of the municipalities and the Canton required

A draft law addressing homelessness, proposed by the Canton and welcomed by the ACG, should soon be submitted to the Grand Council. According to Christina Kitsos, “This is an essential step, but it will be difficult to make any progress until a clear financial distribution key has been defined. I will ensure that the interests of the beneficiaries, the homeless people and the people of the City of Geneva – which has assumed responsibility for the majority of this policy over the past 20 years – are taken into full consideration. Without this distribution key, it will be impossible to strengthen the welcome offered these beneficiaries.”

Today, the City intends to reiterate its commitment to developing a stable and lasting measure designed to foster the reinsertion and empowerment of these people. With this in mind, it has initiated a study in order to establish the needs of homeless people with regard to the existing facilities. The University of Geneva has been commissioned to conduct this study and will publish its results and recommendations before the summer.

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Article modifié le 29.03.2021 à 16:04