HOMELESS PEOPLE IN BRATISLAVA (EMPIRIC PROBE)
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Concept of homelessness is closely intertwined with concept of poverty. People, who miss home, miss the place and institution where numerous needs are easily satisfied. Homeless people could satisfy very ordinary needs like health diet, clothing, bodily cleanness and tidiness but with exceptional effort. Therefore, concepts of poverty and homelessness are inclusive, not synonymous. To be poor does not necessarily mean to be without home. However, to be homeless implies being poor. The paper is based on the intensive fieldwork in Bratislava streets and homeless asylums done by the authoress in the years 1999 - 2003. The fieldwork consists of repeated visits of places where homeless people use to stay (squatted houses, deserted garden cabanas, sewerages, cellars) and of observations of their way of living. Later, in the years 2002- 2003 she continued her research as the part of her voluntary work for the four Christian and civic organizations caring for homeless people in Bratislava. The basic findings of the research could be sum as following. Accurate numbers of homeless people in Bratislava are unknown; estimations come near to several thousands. There is no organization authorized to keep the figures of homeless people. Homeless people in Bratislava are ill-assorted people who resist general categorization. Their diversity could be partly described with category of age, gender and place of stay. Some characteristics are typical only for parts of homeless people, for instance types of shelters and surviving strategies could be use as grouping criteria. However, such categories are mutually penetrating and one homeless person could belong to more categories. Homeless people in Bratislava could be sorted out according types of shelter to three groups: living on street, living in own shelters like desolate houses, self-made shanties, sewerages; and people living in lodging houses and hostels provided by voluntary and charitable organizations. This categorization is not fix, because homeless people usually use one type of shelter only for restricted period. The findings of the survey among the sellers of street journal Nota Bene done in February 2002 suggested that 29% lived in hostels, 12,9% in lodgings, 6,5% by acquaintance, 16,1% in desolate house, 25,8% directly in the street and 9,7% on other place. Street people have various surviving strategies. Majority of them combine their own efforts with using the institutional help to ensure their living. They take temporary jobs, odd work, jobbing, their sell homeless journal street entertaining, begging, scavenging, and thieving. Using the institutional help is not positively the indicator of someone passivity. Many problems cannot by solved individually and without organizational provision - like taking shower, providing for one documents, or medical aid.
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