Prague providing more beds for homeless as cold weather continues

Photo: Facebook of the Naděje centre

The recent cold spell has finally brought snow to the Czech Republic, to the joy of children who are currently enjoying their Christmas holidays. For the homeless, however, freezing weather presents a serious threat, especially at night, when temperatures drop far below zero. City halls and charities around the country have started securing various forms of temporary shelters where the homeless can survive the cold.

Photo: Facebook of the Naděje centre
There are an estimated 30,000 homeless people living in the Czech Republic; around 4,000 of them in the capital. This year, Prague authorities have secured 400 places in night shelters and another 200 in heated tents. The city hall has also said that in case of emergency it would open up the lobby of the Prague metro to give the homeless protection from the cold. Ludmila Tomešová is the deputy head of the Centre for Social Services in Prague:

“Throughout the year we offer around 800 places for the homeless. From the start of December to the end of March, we also open up temporary shelters, along with the city of Prague and several charities, such as Salvation Army and Naděje. Three centres with 300 beds have been already open in Prague. Right now their capacity is used to 90 percent. All of these centres are brick and mortar buildings with heating and hot water. In case of an emergency, we are also ready to put up heated tents.”

The shelters provided for the homeless in Prague are free of charge. The only requirement their clients have to meet in order to be admitted is that they don’t present a threat to themselves or to the others. Ludmila Tomešová again:

Photo: Filip Jandourek,  ČRo
“The temporary shelters are only open at night but during the winter months, we offer a complex set of services. During the day we are running day centres, which offer clean clothes, food, as well as basic medical and social care. We also have field workers in the streets, who inform our clients about what kind of services they can get and where to get them. The field workers are also out at night, looking for the homeless who are not aware of the emergency shelters.”

Last year, due to an exceptionally mild winter, Prague spent only around seven million crowns on providing emergency accommodation for the homeless. This year, the costs are estimated to amount to some 13 million crowns.