Why is this in the news ?

On Sunday in Paris, a homeless person died of cold.  According to homeless organisations, the death of this man shows the severity of the situation in France.  According to the state and homeless organisations, almost 150,000 people live rough.  Among them are more and more families with children.

What is an emergency shelter ?

Emergency shelters offer the homeless a place in a dormitory or small hotel room where they can spend the night.  This accommodation is only for one night, which means that they have to find new shelter every day to avoid sleeping rough.  Not everyone will find a place.  In France there are many more homeless people than places in emergency shelters.  For every four people needing a place in a shelter, only one will be successful.
As a result, every night most homeless people have to sleep on the street, under bridges or on the pavement, or opt to seek shelter in hospitals or public transport.  In Paris, for example, more than 200 people sleep in metro stations every night.  Homeless organisations are fighting not only for new emergency shelters but for these shelters to stay open all year.  Most of the time they are only open in winter when temperatures drop below zero degrees.  However, these organisations argue that the street is no less dangerous when it’s hot and that those sleeping rough die all year around, even in summer.

What is the government doing about it ?

The state has announced that it will create 5,000 extra emergency shelter places by 2013.  Good news, even if it still isn’t enough to help all those living on the streets. In the meantime, if you come across a homeless person sleeping rough in the cold, you can contact the SAMU social (humanitarian emergency service) by calling Freephone 115.
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