Istanbul, hotels for homeless

Istanbul hotels open their doors to homeless

An initiative launched by the Istanbul authorities and NGOs offers hotel rooms to homeless amidst cold and pandemic.

Istanbul hotels have opened their doors to homeless, sheltering many of them thanks to an initiative launched by the city authorities that aims to provide them with shelter in the coldest months of the year, guaranteeing at the same time safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

In coordination with NGOs and the district governors of the city, the Istanbul governor’s office launched in 2019 an initiative called Kimse Dışarıda Kalmasın! Misafir Edelim (Let no one be left out! Let’s welcome them) which has continued this year, involving 39 districts of Istanbul.

The project seeks to offer homeless people safe accommodation in the coldest months of the year, offering them a hotel room and all the necessary help until weather conditions improve. For example, in the Fatih district, in the historic heart of Istanbul, 7 hotels are participating in the initiative, currently accommodating 123 homeless.

“We cover all the food, clothing and other needs of the homeless,” Kaan Peker, district governor, explained to media, adding that before being admitted to hotels they have to pass a PCR test to verify that they are not infected by the coronavirus. Peker also stressed the importance of citizens’s help, who can contact authorities in case they know someone in need of help.

“We have hot water 24 hours a day, and three meals a day”

“Things have not gone well in my business, and I have been on the street for 8 months. This is a place that I would not have been able to afford even if I had a job,” says Gökhan Sağır, one of the homeless people who has benefited of the initiative. “It is a comfortable and warm place. We have hot water 24 hours a day, and they give us three meals a day,” he adds while expressing his hope of being able to find a job that will allow him to have a home again.

In previous years the authorities in Istanbul have provided accommodation for homeless people in facilities such as sports halls, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the risk of housing large numbers of people in closed spaces would be too high; so now they are sheltering them in individual rooms in hotels, where food is brought to their room and they also have free health care.