The Government responds to Gema Igual and considers it “illegal” to force a homeless person to go to a shelter

Last summer, the mayor of Santander, Gema Igual, asked the Government of Cantabria to create a working group to address “the problem of homeless people who live on the streets in the city and who decline to use services such as the Princess Letizia Center.” to stay.” During her meeting with the counselor of the Presidency, Isabel Urrutia, the councilor put on the table studying the possibility that the professionals of the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital evaluate these people to check if they have any type of mental disorder, as a prior step to their transfer to a reception center.

According to the Minister of Social Inclusion, Youth, Families and Equality, Begoña Gómez del Río, this formula does not comply with the law. «Individual freedom prevails. People’s rights must always be respected. We have to adjust to current regulations and, accordingly, respect the decision of all people,” replies the person responsible for the social services of the autonomous community. Gómez del Río details that the regional Administration, even if it wanted to, does not have any room for maneuver because this issue is regulated by state regulations.

In any case, the head of the department does consider that the public powers “have the obligation to offer resources” to the nearly 300 people who live on the streets in Cantabria, according to the latest estimate made by Cáritas. In this sense, she anticipates that starting in 2024 the Government of Cantabria will collaborate with the Princesa Letizia municipal center, which “not only welcomes people from Santander, but also from Cantabria.” Furthermore, the regional Executive remembers that there are other models to help these people beyond reception. Models that “are being experimented in other autonomous communities and that we like.”

If the Cantabria Budgets for next year go ahead, the Ministry of Inclusion will have an allocation of 2,130,000 euros for the acquisition of 20 homes through the Cantabrian Institute of Social Services (Icass). They will serve to create a network for homeless people. It will be done within the framework of the ‘Housing First’ program, a model of intervention with people who live on the streets and which was born in the United States in the 1990s.

This system “turns housing into a priority element in the person’s inclusion process, accompanied by the support of a technical team – with periodic visits – that is based on respect for the person and their self-determination.”

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