COVID-19: Residents of other districts, stranded in Chennai, approach Corporation shelters

A view of a Corporation night shelter in Chenani

A view of a Corporation night shelter in Chenani   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Many are being turned away by lodges and have no place to go, officials of the Shelter for Urban Homeless Scheme said

The Chennai Corporation’s shelter helpline is being inundated by calls from residents of other districts and States, who are stranded in the city after being turned away from a few lodges, following the COVID -19 scare.

The Shelter for Urban Homeless Scheme under the National Urban Livelihood Mission, is being implemented by the Public Health Department of the Greater Chennai Corporation in the city.

There are a total of 51 shelters including 13 special shelters in hospitals for attenders of patients. The staff has advertised the GCC helpline number 1913 and shelter helpline numbers 044-25303849 and 9445190472 to help the homeless in the city during the Janata Curfew and to provide them with a roof on other days as well.

“However from Saturday morning till noon we have got close to 50 calls from different parts of the city and neighbouring towns asking if shelter would be provided as people have been asked to vacate lodges. We guided them to the nearest shelter and provided them with the shelter co-ordinator’s number,” said a staff member of the shelter helpline. He said that the staff have been going around and distributing notice to the homeless asking them to stay in shelters on Sunday (Janata Curfew) and other days as well. Many NGOs have also come forward to provide food at the shelters.

“We have been cleaning the shelters at least six times every day and are providing the residents with food and boiled cumin water. New residents are admitted only after they are checked for symptoms in nearby hospitals. We also make them wash their hands using soap and water mixed with neem and other natural disinfectants,” said Asha Parek Nandini, city level coordinator, Shelter for Urban Homeless

A senior GCC official said that they are creating awareness among the residents about COVID – 19. “We will be taking ambulances and jeeps on Sunday and going around the city to help stranded people. They will be brought to the shelters,” said another staff member.

Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities, said that there is an immediate need to open community halls or schools for homeless families to stay protected.

Meanwhile Greater Chennai Corporation officials have clarified that they have not asked lodges to turn away customers, but have advised them to clean their rooms and premises regularly and take precautions.

“There is no need to panic. We are providing assistance to those who do not have accommodation. Those who have homes can stay there itself. We will accommodate people in community halls and schools if a need arises,” said an official.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 3:33:54 PM |

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