Homeless face tougher environment amid pandemic: charity

09/12/2020 08:34 PM
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CNA photo Sept. 12, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 12, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) Life has grown increasingly difficult for the homeless both economically and in other areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to charity group Homeless Taiwan Association.

At a recent press conference on the impact of the pandemic on the homeless, Lee Ying-tzi (李盈姿), secretary general of the association, said while the group received enough donations of funds and supplies, such as face masks and sanitizing alcohol, for those staying in its shelters, life has become tougher for many others.

A survey conducted by the charity group found nearly 70 percent of homeless people have work, mostly temporary jobs like handing out flyers and holding ad signs on the street.

However, their income has been hit as such work has dwindled amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which also led to fewer groups providing free meals and supplies at locations where the homeless gather, such as around Taipei Main Station, she said.

Without social workers, homeless people may not even know how or where to get face masks, she added. To improve understanding of this stigmatized group of people, the charity group is holding a photography exhibition at Taipei's Bopiliao Historic Block through Sunday, with homeless people sharing their experiences on the street at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

"Mr. Airplane," one of the people sharing his story during the exhibition / CNA photo Sept.12, 2020
"Mr. Airplane," one of the people sharing his story during the exhibition / CNA photo Sept.12, 2020

"Mr. Airplane," one of the people sharing his story during the exhibition, told CNA that life was hard before the pandemic, but his income from selling The Big Issue has since fallen to NT$5,000 (US$170.65) a month.

He said the drop in sales is likely caused by changes in the economy and people's reading habits, which led to a drop in buyers.

The charity group is also scheduled to hold a 36-hour event from Sept. 19-20 that will allow 25 people to experience life on the street.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Kay Liu)

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