Istanbul hotels open doors to city’s homeless
The Istanbul Governor’s Office, in coordination with district governors and social assistance and solidarity foundations in the city, initiated a project dubbed “Let no one out. Let’s host them” in 2019 that has continued this year as well in a total of 39 districts amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the Fatih district on the European side of the city, seven accommodation facilities are presently hosting 123 homeless people, while in the Üsküdar district on the Asian side, two hotels have welcomed some 25 homeless people.
“We are trying to reach out to every single individual who needs a place to stay. We are working to increase the number of accommodation facilities to meet the demand,” said Kaan Peker, the district governor of the Fatih district.
He noted that homeless people would be staying at those facilities until the weather conditions become more favorable.
“We meet all the food, clothing and other needs of the homeless,” Peker said, adding that PCR tests were run on the homeless people before admitting them to the facilities.
He called on people in Istanbul to contact police forces and local authorities to support this initiative.
“Things did not work out well with my business, and I was out on the streets for eight months. This is a place I would not have been able to afford even if I had a job,” Gökhan Sağır, one of the residents of one of those accommodation facilities in the Fatih district.
“It is a warm and comfortable place. We have hot water running 24 hours and are provided with meals three times a day,” Sağır said.
In the Üsküdar district, 25 homeless have been given accommodation in two hotels with which the district governor’s office has signed a deal.
“The number of homeless people staying at those facilities vary from time to time. We are hosting people, who are sleeping in the district’s parks and squares,” Murat Sefa Demiryürek said.
In the previous years, homeless people were sheltered in indoor venues, such as sports halls, but amid the coronavirus outbreak, such an arrangement would have been risky, he said.
“That is why we are hosting them in hotels in individual rooms. The food is served in their rooms. We are also providing health services,” Demiryürek said.