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Ministry comments on homeless persons’ access to social assistance services

The HFHR received the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy’s response to the Foundation’s statement on the difficulties in accessing social assistance services faced by persons experiencing homelessness.

The HFHR pointed out that a number of provisions of the Social Assistance Act were applied in a manner that could be considered unconstitutional. 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.

Department of Social Assistance and Integration of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy did not note the problem mentioned by the HFHR. The Ministry’s letter stated that the provisions of the Social Assistance Act “in no way limit homeless persons’ freedom of movement within Poland as well as their choice of the place of stay”. The letter also referred to the provisions of the act that allow for the waiver of the principle according to which municipalities offer benefits on the basis of the last permanent registered residence of their recipients. However, they refer only to “the circumstances particularly justified by the personal situation of the person applying for the benefit” and can be applied “in emergency”.

In concluding, the Ministry assured the HFHR that the “rights and freedoms of the homeless persons as well as other persons receiving social assistance benefits are respected”.

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