Mjo2016's picture


An ordinance "for the urban decorum of the historical center" signed by the Mayor of Como before Christmas was passed to fine homeless and migrants begging in Como, in Northern Italy.

Many associations helping homeless people denounce that not only beggars and homeless people are fined but the same associations and volunteers are prevented from helping them, bringing them a coffee or something to eat.

One morning, as they have been doing for seven years, some volunteers of the arrived at the former Church of St. Francis in Como to distribute breakfast to homeless people, but they were forbidden to do it as their simple but very significant gesture would be contrary to the new Ordinance of the Municipality.

The ordinance, published on the site of the municipality of Como in mid- December, specifies that it applies to the walled city area, especially near the former church of San Francesco and other places, were local police had highlighted "situations of degradation" by "individuals that are drunk and carry out their physiological needs in the surrounding areas" and with "the increase of individuals beggin' at numerous corners of the walled city often using invasive and insistent modalities to obtain money. 

Read un article from the newspaper “La Repubblica”  (in Italian).  In the following days associations and private citizens protested against the decision

Find below some extracts translated from the statement published by the organisations against the ordinance :

"We remain firmly convinced that there are other ways to approach the issue (...) We believe it is a mistake to put phenomena on the same level in an indiscriminate way, without making a distinction between begging, homelessness, racketeering, sellers of counterfeit goods. In the ordinance everything focuses in hiding, but not from all the city-of course-but only from some areas and only for Christmas time. (...)"

"As organisations that have been working for years in the field of severe marginality, we don’t consider particularly useful measures that seem to work on immediacy. We believe we must think and build processes of change in which the whole community is involved. Processes that work, taking into account the complexity and the diversity of the problems, processes that deepen the knowledge of the serious marginality, its specificities and the possible interventions of relational proximity, social mediation, support, valorisation of resources (we do not believe homeless people are always and only poor of everything!,) systemic actions, even according to what is expressed very clearly by "Guidelines to address serious adult marginalization in Italy" issued by the government in 2016. (...)

Some instruments, are already provided by law, fighting illegal phenomena such as lucrative alms racket or illicit trade of counterfeit goods, which leads us to consider the measure, if anything, superfluous. It also strikes its futility. We are all aware that fines will never be paid and that the problems we would like to be charged with will not be solved with these interventions. So far the only visible consequence seems to be that of humiliating and marginalizing an even larger number of the weakest and most fragile people of our society, people who mostly need our closeness and welcome. 
"The other consequence was to hit an informal group of citizens and volunteers who every morning brings a coffee, a brioche and above all a valuable relationship of proximity, an irreplaceable human contact with homeless people. We listened to the agents of the local police command that are also mere executors and not responsible for the measure, but we would like to reiterate that the Volunteers were explicitly invited to move away from the former Church of St. Francis, because at the risk of being sanctioned on the basis of the ordinance."
News Type: