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When It Comes to Choosing the Shelter or the Open Air, in the Cold Streets of SP the Homeless Have the Final Say

05/24/2018 - 12h53

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FROM SÃO PAULO

On the Sidewalk in front of a Car Dealership, an Elderly Person Sleeps Rolled Up in a Shabby Blanke. It was late at night on Tuesday (the 22nd) and thermometers were registering 13º C (55º F). It was the exposed feet that motivated the team for approaching street dwellers from São Paulo's City Hall to stop the van to try to take the elderly person to the municipal shelter.

"Good evening Sir. Would you like some shelter?" asked social worker Wenia Diniz without getting any response. Antônio ended up accepting a blanket offered by the team and went back to sleep.

A few meters away on the same sidewalk, Romildo de Jesus, 42, a plumber, was lying down with his arms cradled inside his sweatshirt and with his head resting on a backpack.

Unlike Antônio, he immediately accepted the invitation to spend the night at the Santana CTA (Temporary Shelter Center).

Since Sunday (the 20th), late nights & early mornings have been freezing in the Capital city and approaches made to street dwellers have increased. Throughout the entire city, there are 14 vehicles that circulate every night starting at 10 PM with teams who try to convince street dwellers to spend the night in shelters. During the day, the fleet numbers 85 vans.

But social workers are prohibited from obligating street dwellers to accept shelter. While they are refusing, the workers take down their information, like name, ID number, and family affiliation on a form which afterwards is entered in to City Hall's database.

More incisive intervention only takes place in extreme cases, when a person presents symptoms of serious health issues, like difficulty in breathing or a lack of consciousness. In these situations, the teams are instructed to call an ambulance and to wait for a health team at the locale to take the person to a hospital.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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