New scheme helps city's homeless
GUANGZHOU: Homeless people in Guangdong Province's capital are now being given help on the streets instead of having to go and find it for themselves.
New measures that took effect earlier this year mean outreach workers find homeless people themselves and send them to the shelter.
The workers are from Guangzhou Aid Station for Homeless People, under the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau.
Under the new scheme, workers at the shelter frequently goes onto the streets to identify homeless people and persuade them to receive help at the station.
A 63-year-old homeless woman, surnamed Wang, who has been roaming about the city's streets for a number of years, is one of those who have been helped.
She was taken to the aid station after workers explained the shelter policy to her.
"Roaming about the streets is very hard for an older person," she said.
Wang once considered seeking help from the shelter, but she could not find ite because there were no proper signs to direct her there.
Guangzhou introduced the Measures on Aid and Management of Urban Vagrants and Beggars in 2003, the year when the government-funded the shelter were established in the city.
In addition, the city established a relief and protection centre for street children in 2003.
Before implementation of the measures, the public were reminded just how needed they were by an incident in the city in 2003.
Sun Zhigang, a 27-year-old graphic designer from Hubei Province, was mistaken for a vagrant and detained as he did not have his temporary residency card or identification card with him.
He was then beaten to death by inmates while at a repatriation centre several days later.
This case helped accelerate the launch of the new aid measures for urban vagrants and beggars.
Under the new measures, homeless people are not being forced to go to the shelter.
"More effort is needed to allow assistance to reach the needy more quickly and efficiently," said Li Weijie, director of the local civil affairs bureau.
(China Daily 06/16/2005 page3)