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Paris Provides Fancy Shelter for Homeless People

Paris Provides Fancy Shelter for Homeless People

Saturday, 25 May, 2019 - 04:30
A man who says he is homeless sits on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as shoppers pass, looking for Black Friday sales, November 29, 2013. (Reuters / Carlo Allegri)
Paris - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Marie-Claire may not have an address but she owns a red letter box made of cardboard, which reminds her of the "home I'll have one day."

Along with about 120 homeless women, she has taken shelter in Paris' palatial city hall where she gets hot meals and a bed, housing and healthcare guidance, along with arts therapy.

Marie-Claire, mother of two, slouching in a wheelchair against a wall of bright drawings, said: "When I leave here I will have a home, big or small it doesn't matter, as long as my kids can join me."

France, like most European countries, has seen a rise in homelessness in the past decade, fueled by fallout from the global financial crisis and an influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Paris alone has more than 3,600 homeless people – 12 percent of them female, according to official estimates, an increase of about 20 percent since 2018. In October, it announced plans to house some of the city's homeless in its sumptuous city hall, built in chateau style with turrets, gilded ballrooms, and ornate stonework.

Only women were admitted under the mayoral initiative, part of a broader scheme to get people off the streets over winter, to save them from harassment and violence, said Francoise Khenfer of the Samusocial de Paris, a government-funded charity that runs emergency services for the homeless.

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