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Housing rights advocates call for improved services for homeless in Lleida

Lodging for some only provided at night while those in need lack access to facilities during day

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14 November 2020 06:18 PM

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ACN|Lleida

Around 60 people demonstrated in Lleida on Saturday to ask local authorities at the 'Paeria', as the city's council is known, to improve the services provided to some of the western Catalan municipality's homeless population – in particular those that are allowed to sleep in a Fira de Lleida pavilion as well as to call for the creation of a public hostel.

The housing rights advocates who protested in front of the Fira de Lleida pavilion, including members of Fruita amb Justícia Social, PAH, Arrels, Ndiatiguia, and Juntos Sumamos, believe the move to allow a number of people to sleep there is motivated more by a desire "to be able to say [the authorities] have done something" rather than to provide those in need with "fair and decent" conditions.

After spending the night at the public lodging sites, the people that would otherwise be sleeping rough are forced to leave at 8 am, the activists complain, even during the pandemic.

Kelly Isaiah Ogbebor, one of the demonstrators, believes a public hostel to lodge all of the city's homeless, many of whom are migrant seasonal workers, is needed "immediately."

"They tell us we should avoid going out, that there cannot be gatherings of over 6 people, that hospitals are under a lot of pressure, but they aren't doing anything for these people – they just leave them out on the street regardless of whether it's raining or it's cold," he complained, adding that "institutional racism" factored into the council's response to the issue. 

This is not the first time housing issues in the western Catalan city have been in the spotlight – in fact, last summer football player Keita Baldé and local activists complained of the discrimination faced by many irregular migrants that moved to the region to harvest fruit.    

Last June, the Catalan-born Senegalese player covered the lodging fees of 80 seasonal workers at local hotels, but not after being turned down by a significant number of establishments alleging public health motives.

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  • Housing rights advocates in Lleida on November 14, 2020 (by Laura Cortés)

  • Housing rights advocates in Lleida on November 14, 2020 (by Laura Cortés)

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