City Angels opens village for Milan homeless

New structure offers up to 300 places.

Volunteers from Milan’s charitable non-profit City Angels has built a village of wooden pre-fab houses for the city’s homeless, timing the opening this week to herald the Pope’s visit on Saturday.

The “Clochards’ Oasis” at present has around 70 places, but the plan is to enlarge it to house up to 300. The next phase, over the coming few weeks, will be to add a women’s shelter, a gymnasium and a space for the animals which many homeless people keep for company and comfort.

The village includes a canteen and a health centre as well as a lending library, said the organisers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the location on Via Lombroso in Milan’s Calvairate district. The “Oasis” is located across from the fruit and vegetable wholesale market on municipal property which was previously a camp for Roma people.

The concept, the organisers stated, is to move away from the classical dormitory for the homeless where privacy is scarce or totally lacking. The village will be open to the community, hosting meetings with an opportunity to exchange experiences, or exhibits like the current show of paintings by Egidio Guarino on the subject of life on the road.

The City Angels group was founded in 1994 in Milan by journalist and professor of motivation Mario Furlan, and now has chapters in 18 other Italian cities and in Switzerland. Their purpose is to help the homeless, immigrants, drug victims and others in distress. City Angels also cooperates with law enforcement agencies in preventing and fighting street crime.