Facebook and the Homeless

Austria News Briefs

News | Vienna Review | March 2012

The Austrian National Railway (ÖBB) has offered the use of its premises as temporary night shelters for the homeless, in response to a citizens’ campaign on the social networking site Facebook.

The ÖBB management reacted swiftly after a Facebook group entitled "Please ÖBB, keep train stations open overnight in this cold" attracted over 5,000 members.

With night-time temperatures dropping to -20°C in February, ÖBB provided Caritas, the social service arm of the Archdiocese, with a list of heated premises and instructed employees to allow homeless people to spend the night there.

By 23 Feb., ÖBB had received no response from Caritas yet, but spokesperson Sonja Horner confirmed "the offer still stands."

Meanwhile Vienna’s homeless found shelter in unexpected places, as a brothel in the 12th District opened its doors to them for a few days in early February.

"With men away on family ski trips, business is quiet during the school holidays, so 10 homeless men slept in our beds," the owner Peter Laskaris told the weekly Falter.

"We had such fun that we have decided to do a charity campaign every year," he said.

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