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Homeless persons’ access to social assistance services

The HFHR has intervened with the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy, pointing to the difficulties in accessing social assistance services faced by persons experiencing homelessness.

The Foundation noted the provisions of law that prevent homeless persons from obtaining the services. Under the law, a homeless person who wants to receive social assistance must report to the authorities of the municipality of their last permanent registered residence. This requirement applies also to those persons who – directly before losing their homes – were collecting benefits in other municipality than that of their last permanent registered residence.

The letter sent to the Ministry reads that the rules “significantly restrict the access of persons experiencing homelessness to social assistance services”. In effect, a homeless person who was previously living at a single location for a number of years, is referred to the place of their last permanent registered residence, which may be hundreds of kilometres away from their present place of stay. If they fail to do so, they are unable to receive any benefits.

“The operation of this provision may be unconstitutional. It is likely to violate the freedom of a person’s choice of the place of residence and stay and also the prohibition of discrimination”, says Adam Ploszka, a lawyer working with the HFHR. Under article 75 of the Constitution, the state is obliged to support homeless persons to move from homelessness. In practice, the discussed provision makes it more difficult to perform this obligation.

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