Zagreb Homeless Shelter to Close Because of Croatia Government Inaction

Total Croatia News


March 2, 2020 – Zagreb’s homeless population could soon lose the roof over their heads. The only homeless shelter in Zagreb, which offers various forms of practical help and advice, is about to be closed permanently unless the Croatia government acts soon.


Homeless in Zagreb | HMB Facebook

Most Homeless Shelter Users Come from Slavonia

“This is the only place I can come without money and have coffee, get on the computer if I need to, or just warm up when it’s cold… it’s the only place,” explains a younger user regarding his visit to the Homeless Assistance and Support Centre on Branimirova Ulica 53 in Zagreb. He is originally from Slavonia and, as he pointed out, would not know how to survive in Zagreb without this shelter, which is part of the Hrvatske mreže za beskućnike (Croatian Homeless Network).

“Because it’s a relief to know that I can always come in from off the street if I need to or want to. Besides, we can also borrow a sleeping bag here or seek advice. It would be a big blow if they close the centre – for myself and many others,” he added.

Zagreb Shelter Will Close in Three Months: Contract Expires

As reported by Igor Lasić/DW on March 2, 2020; the Zagreb shelter’s three-year contract with the government expires in three months. Therefore, by law, they will have to move out of their rented space. A new competition for a grant has not yet been announced. Even if it occurs in the meantime, it will be almost impossible for the rest of the procedure to be completed before that deadline. In reality, the work of the shelter can only be sustained by a gesture of extraordinary grace by the Government of Croatia, or the competent Ministry for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy.

“I found out about this shelter through Facebook. I’m from Slavonia and could not exercise my rights as a child of a war veteran, so I had to leave. The biggest advantage of this shelter is that it helps people find jobs. There is also a housing community, so that some people can find temporary accommodation here as well,” the Slavonian continued.

The homeless young man has worked several jobs since, like food delivery and similar, but never for long. He has also worked abroad in entry-level construction jobs but said that he has faced various setbacks. He does not speak any foreign languages, so he cannot not even seek protection or better opportunities.


About 50 to 70 homeless live in abandoned railroad cars at the Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor according to HMB | Index YouTube

Thirty Visitors Per Day in Winter, 352 Registered Users

“Over twenty people come to our shelter daily, on average, and more than thirty in the winter, but we have a total of 352 registered users. Some just come for coffee, some for legal or other advice and some participate in our educational workshops. We also help users with finding a job, which is extremely important for re-socializing the excluded members of our society. But our best program is the residential community. In one apartment we have enabled a total of 32 younger users to become more independent over time and resume life from a more stable starting point. It is difficult for us, who have always had housing, to understand how important this is,” Slavko Mađor, manager of the shelter, revealed.


Slavko Mađor | DW Igor Lasic

“It is difficult for us to understand what it’s like when someone has to sleep in a public booth and then goes to work every day from there. Or how a person becomes homeless. Well, even my mother was surprised and asked me how this could be,” explained Mađor.

Another user was from Zagreb. He did not want to be photographed or have his name published. With their permission, two other users were photographed at computers while working, but only from the back. It’s not hard to grasp the backlash from publicity. An elderly lady sat in the entry, avoiding eye contact. Another entered the shelter and spoke to Slavko Mađor in English. She’s French and has been coming for a while, and nobody knows what kinds of challenges she’s dealing with.


Zagreb Shelter Users | DW Igor Lasic

Shelter Offers Help, Food and Accommodation

“In a situation like this, it means a lot when people know that someone is available and willing to pay attention to them, let alone help with something else. This is more meaningful than just food and accommodation,” summed up the man from Zagreb. He claimed to be 42 years old and is looking for a job after a temporary one ended, which he obtained through the shelter.

“In any case, I am not officially registered as a homeless person, but that is only because I can sleep with a friend in Velika Gorica right now,” he explained.

“I used to be a waiter but now I’ll take any job I’m offered. And while I’m waiting, I’ll stop here and warm up, eat a sandwich, spend time at the computer and talk to people. We can talk like real people without fearing that someone will judge us because we are in a situation like this,” he added.


HMB Facebook

Only Homeless Shelter in Zagreb

The Homeless Help and Support Centre is just that: a place where the homeless can obtain help and necessities beyond just a meal or shelter. There aren’t any other facilities like this in Zagreb. And this is where the existentially afflicted from all over Croatia wind up. Most of them come from Slavonia because not only does Slavonia have the lowest standard of living and the weakest labour market; it also have the weakest social welfare system. But now the survival of this lone refuge is endangered, or at least extremely uncertain, until the government is willing to act.

Those who rely on this shelter to meet their essential needs and better their situation need not be left with a parting courtesy of hoping to meet again one day in the same place. In any event, upon vacating the building at Branimirova Ulica 53, at least the shelter will not have to remove their sign from the facade near the entrance, even if they must move out. It has already been removed, at the request of the occupants of the building, who own their homes.

Index Profiles Zagreb Homeless Man

Follow our Politics page for updates on this story and the challenges of the homeless population in Croatia. More information about the Hrvatske mreže za beskućnike (Croatian Homeless Network) can be found on their website here and Facebook page here.


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