The Slovenia Times

Number of Homeless Rising


The latest data put the number of homeless people in Slovenia at around 4,000, but the actual number is believed to be higher, since many conceal their situation, experts told a news conference hosted by the Human Rights Ombudsman earlier this week.

But homelessness is no longer limited to middle-aged men, spreading to include women and children, families who have been evicted and are without basic insurance, Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer said.

Such families "cannot hope to get a housing unit", she warned, adding that the homeless do not have the social support needed to find a way out of the situation.

Around 800 additional accommodation units would be necessary in the country, a specific problem being shelters that could accommodate families.

Suzi Kvas of the Socio institute said that meant families were often broken up and that children ended up in foster homes.

Kvas feels shelters need to be set up that meet the needs of specific groups; families, those with addiction issues and those who are released from prison for instance.

Also highlighted was the problem of loss of rights, such as welfare and healthcare, as a result of not having a registered residence.

Boštjan Cvetič, who heads the umbrella organisation for the issues of the homeless which was formed by several associations last year, presented a draft strategy for the field, the first such document in Slovenia to date.

Expressing his hope the network's strategy will help Slovenia become more like Scandinavian countries when it comes to addressing homelessness, Cvetič explained the document dealt with areas like social care, housing and employment.

While arguing for an ombudsman for the homeless, he stressed the need to do more on the prevention side, as "increasing the number of beds in homeless shelters is not the only solution". Also needed is post-hospital care unit for the homeless.

In order to challenge stereotypes related to homelessness and raise awareness about the worrying trends, an open doors day will be held at shelters around Slovenia on Saturday.

Already today, visitors to the shelter of the Maribor branch of Caritas will be able to see an outdoor shelter unit as well as the garden tilled and tended by the homeless and a display of their paintings.

These will be on sale tomorrow at a homeless market in Maribor, at which homeless people will be exchanging their products for hats, scarves and other useful things.

Humanitarček, the charity that has been taking care of the homeless, elderly and other marginalised groups in Maribor for several years, will stage an event in the city's main square dubbed "Let's put ourselves in some one else's shoes" that will also see people form a live chain across the old bridge.


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