ZAGREB, March 16, 2018 – Currently there are over 1,000 homeless people in Croatia and the existing shelters can accommodate only 420, while about 500 live rough, a conference on psychosocial support and the integration of homeless people said in Zagreb on Friday, citing data from the Croatian Network for the Homeless.
“Thanks to the cooperation between the Municipal Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities, the Red Cross and the Caritas charity of the Zagreb Archdiocese, there is enough accommodation for the homeless people in Zagreb and none of them should be living in the street, without a roof over their heads,” Caritas director Jelena Lončar said at the conference.
Caritas is trying to integrate as many homeless people as possible and help them back on their feet as part of a three-year programme co-financed by the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy. The programme is in its second year of implementation, covering 44 beneficiaries.
Lončar said that seven of the beneficiaries had found work and left the shelter, five were working as part of the Croatian Employment Service public works scheme and nine were doing casual work. She said that 56 volunteers had been involved in the programme, donating 713 hours of volunteer work, and added that more than 80 percent of the beneficiaries were pleased with the programme.
“People end up in the street for financial, economic or family reasons. Psychosocial support is very important when they find themselves in the shelter. Their self-confidence is shaken and they need the strength to get back to the community,” Lončar said.
Margareta Mađerić, state secretary at the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy, said that the programme was producing good results. “Without integration at national level, without the support of central and local government, civil society organisations, religious communities and the Red Cross, these people would not be able to live without their care. That’s why it is important to finance projects like this,” she said.
The head of the Municipal Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities Romana Galić said that the City of Zagreb annually donated 3.2 million kuna to Caritas and the Red Cross for accommodation services. She noted that local government units were required by the law to provide financial assistance for the accommodation of homeless people, which the City of Zagreb has been doing since 2007.