Barcelona council to house 1,000 vulnerable people in congress venue

City authority also rents 200 tourist apartments for people at risk and opens three centers for homeless

Interior of pavilion number 7 Victoria Eugènia at the Fira de Barcelona venue, March 20, 2020 (by Blanca Blay)
Interior of pavilion number 7 Victoria Eugènia at the Fira de Barcelona venue, March 20, 2020 (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 20, 2020 07:23 PM

Barcelona's main congress venue will soon be equipped to host up to a thousand people to provide accommodation and isolation for vulnerable groups, such as the evicted, victims of gender violence, and the homeless.

The initiative is the result of an agreement between the city council and Fira de Barcelona, which organizes congresses in the capital, while the local authority has also reached a deal to use 200 tourist apartments to house people in a vulnerable situation.

Meanwhile, the council has also announced that it will expand the city's facilities for homeless people by opening three new centers, all of which will be managed by the Red Cross, with the first one due to open on Friday.

Army called in to help set up facility

The facilities in one of the pavilions of the Fira de Barcelona congress venue will be fitted out in the next few days, with emergency military units (UME) sent to help. Measuring some 6,000 square meters, there will be enough room for a thousand beds.

The Red Cross and municipal staff will run the facility, which can be expanded if needs be. According to the local authorities, it will comply with all current safety and hygiene protocols and can be used to isolate suspected coronavirus cases.

Regarding the military involvement in the initiative, the council said UME troops would help set up the venue and get it up and running, and it ruled out any other collaboration with the army other than the disinfection tasks being carried out at the airport and port.

Council to rent apartments at below market price

The council's agreement to use 200 empty tourist apartments to house vulnerable people is with the Apartur association, which is renting the accommodation to the local authority for an initial period of two months for below market price.

The apartments will be used to house people such as female victims of gender violence and their children, or homeless people who are now being housed in municipal facilities. They can also be used to isolate people who are now under council care elsewhere.

First center for homeless opens on Friday

As for the three new centers for homeless people, the first will open on Friday with an initial capacity for 56 people. Another center soon to open will house 30 people who need to stay in isolation, while the third facility will house showers, a laundry, and a dining room.

According to the city council, there are currently 2,200 homeless people being hosted by the local authority or other organizations, and it estimates that there are about a thousand people currently sleeping rough on the city's streets.