The Malta Independent 23 May 2024, Thursday
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An increasing number of families seeking shelter

Giulia Magri Sunday, 22 December 2019, 10:30 Last update: about 5 years ago

Between January and November, a total of 808 families seeking shelter were referred to the YMCA – 140 of which were accepted, the Association’s CEO Anthony Camilleri told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Last year, 395 cases were referred to the organisation and 147 were accepted. This means there was an increase of 415 cases in 2019 compared with the previous year.

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The issue of homelessness was regularly flagged in 2019, with many photographs appearing on the social media of people sleeping rough in areas such as Floriana and Msida. There have been numerous reports of increasing homelessness, shelters struggling to cope and pensioners at risk of poverty.

Figures published by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, showed that 83,000 people in Malta are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Earlier this year, The Malta Independent interviewed a 43-year-old woman who talked about her situation and what had led her to live in an agricultural storeroom on the edge of a field with no running water or electricity.

Mr Camilleri said that 55 per cent of the 808 cases were Maltese. Although the number of Maltese is higher than that of foreigners, this summer saw dozens of migrants evicted from flats in Bugibba. Tenants living in these flats paid around €200 to €300 a fortnight to live in filthy rooms that were infested with cockroaches and rats.

Before this raid, the police had also evicted migrants living in converted stables in Marsa.

According to Mr Camilleri, there are more males seeking shelter than females – almost double the rate, in fact. He also pointed out that instead of seeing an increase in the number of young people seeking shelter, this year the YMCA saw an increase in family units: single fathers or single mothers with children, or sometimes both parents with children.

There are numerous circumstances that lead to homelessness, from financial issues to those involving the family. With the rise in the cost of renting property, many people on a low income, or not even being paid the minimum wage, find themselves unable to rent, rendering them homeless.

An increase in cases of domestic violence has also led to more women leaving their homes and ending up with no emotional or financial help, which reflects how certain circumstances are interlinked and highlights the difficulty of pin-pointing the precise reasons why there has been an increase in the number of people seeking shelter.

This year YMCA is asking for food donations for a new service – Y’ Visible – which was launched last month. http://www.ymcamalta.org/yvisible.php.

Donations can also be made through an SMS to 5061 8088 for a donation of €4.66 or 5061 9212 for a donation of €11.65

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