Cruise Ship Transformed into Temporary Homeless Shelter

A person sleeping on a bench in a park.

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A cruise ship is helping solve a homeless problem in Bordeaux, France.

Fabb1366 MSBordeaux LR AC
(Image via Cycle Breaks)

The French government has collaborated with a non-profit organization to transform the MS Bordeaux cruise ship into a temporary shelter for homeless individuals. As the winter season approaches, up to 100 people can now find a safe and warm place to stay on the ship.

This program has increased the number of temporary accommodation spots available in Bordeaux by 36% compared to 2017, according to local authorities.

Conditional Access to Temporary Shelter

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The ship is open for guests from 4:30 p.m. until 8:30 a.m. and offers meals and private or shared cabins for overnight stays. During the day, the rooms are cleaned and maintained, so guests are required to vacate the ship until the evening.

During the cold winter months, Bordeaux’s homeless population is offered a vital respite from the harsh realities of the streets, although this initiative is not a long-term solution.

January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of around 45 F.

Uriel Thollas, director of the Diaconat emergency center, said there is “a trained team, which follows them in their procedures.” He also said the contract is for 15 days and is “renewable according to defined criteria, such as the progress of the integration procedures.”

Challenges and Future Plans

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(Shutterstock)

Thollas said the ship can operate 24 hours a day for a few days in case of extreme cold. However, technical and financial constraints would lead to unsatisfactory team and beneficiary services.

While Anne Marchand, regional director of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, welcomed this initiative, she also reminded that “this only remains a solution for the night, for two weeks and in winter.”

“We should move from a logic of emergency, of band-aid, to a logic of anticipation,” she added. After five months, they plan to keep the boat as a withdrawal base for seasonal workers.

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