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Homelessness Hits Sliema’s Streets With Men Turning Garden Benches Into Their Makeshift Homes

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Homelessness is hitting Malta’s streets with photos taken by Lovin Malta showing a group of men turning a couple of benches in a Sliema garden into their makeshift accommodation.

Photos show two men sleeping on benches inside Independence Gardens along tower road in Sliema, using a thin blanket to cover themselves with their belongings lying beside them in plastic bags.

Homelessness remains a hidden but growing issue on Malta’s streets. Last year there were an estimated 300 homeless people living in Malta – however, experts have warned that the situation is only getting worse.

This is not the first time homelessness has hit Sliema, despite the veneer of luxury development. In October 2019, images and a video sent to Lovin Malta gave a firsthand look into how a homeless man lives in the Qui-Si-Sana area of the locality.

A lack of a centralised service for people to reach out to has made things harder for those who do fall on hard times. Though there are services such as the YMCA and the Prison Fellowship Malta, more and more cases of homeless people falling through the cracks are being reported.

It affects several different people in Malta, with the COVID-19 pandemic also drying up the income streams of money and exacerbating the already precarious situation. Food banks and other similar organisation have been flooded with requests from local families struggling to make ends meet.

However, some of those desperate for shelter are asylum seekers, refugees, and irregular migrants, who are among the most marginalised people in society. Apart from having to put up with poor working conditions, they are often paid a pittance and survive hand to mouth.

Many migrants have been evicted from their homes in recent months, with operations in Marsa and Bugibba garnering particular attention. Open centres in the country are overcrowded and are sometimes simply unable to provide a home for everyone.

Lovin Malta has reached out to the Sliema local council for a comment.

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