Chennai Corp shuts four homeless shelters, shifts 30 inmates

Terminates 3 shelters due to poor maintenance by NGOs and the other because its management submitted a letter of withdrawal

Published: 12th August 2022 06:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2022 06:45 AM   |  A+A-

The shelter for elderly men on Stringers Road | R Satish Babu

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Four Corporation-run shelters for the urban homeless in the city, including one for the elderly on Stringers Street in Vepery, have been terminated and the shelters have been closed for the last few weeks. 

According to a Corporation report accessed by TNIE, the shelter for elderly men on Stringers Road, the hospital shelter for women at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Egmore, the shelter for men and women in Chintadripet and the shelter for men in Saidapet have been terminated.

The civic body cited the poor performance of NGOs that operate these shelters as the reason for shutting three of these shelters whereas the NGO running the hospital shelter submitted a letter of withdrawal. The terminations were recommended by the Shelter Advisory Committee, according to corporation officials.
With the termination, around 30 inmates were shifted to other shelters. A woman inmate with a child has been moved from the Chintadripet shelter to a shelter in Adyar. 

The report makes no mention of when the shelters will be reopened. According to a 2018 report released by the health department of Chennai Corporation, there were about 9,087 homeless individuals across the city. Although the corporation announced that 32 additional shelters would be opened in 2019, not only has it not followed through with the announcement, but has now gone on to close four shelters.

This means that at present, there are about 47 functional shelters in the city- one shelter for around 193 homeless individuals. Each shelter is only able to accommodate an average of 50-60 inmates, at present.
According to official sources, even among the functional shelters, some were poorly maintained and some others were unsafe for children with the lack of an airtight security mechanism in place. 

Moreover, as per Supreme Court guidelines, there has to be one shelter with a capacity of 100 for every one lakh of the population. If the city’s population is at an estimated 80 lakhs, the city should then have around 80 shelters with a capacity of 100. 

According to corporation officials, Expression of Interest (EoI) has been called for through newspaper advertisements inviting NGOs to operate and maintain the four shelters and other newly constructed shelters. 

“The non-functional shelters need to be operationalised at the earliest to ensure that persons in homeless situations can be rescued and accommodated. There is also a need for evolving a comprehensive policy for persons and families in homeless situations to ensure access to basic amenities and entitlements through a coordinated effort from different line departments,” said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC).


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