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City shelters open doors to homeless as winter bites

12-15-2010 10:20 BJT

BEIJING, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- As the cold sets in with the arrival of winter, local civil affairs authorities in Shanghai and the southern city of Guangzhou are reaching out to the city's homeless population.

The Shanghai civil affairs bureau has announced that temporary shelters will be provided for the city's homeless until the spring.

Hot food, bathing facilities and other services will be available at the shelters 24 hours a day. Each of them is also equipped with 40 to 50 beds.

"As the temperature continues to drop over coming days, more resources and materials will be provided to those left homeless over the winter," Ren Zhiyue, an official of the bureau's social welfare division, was quoted as saying by Wednesday's China Daily.

The shelters, which are located at the city's 21 social assistance centers for the homeless, assist 30,000 people each year, according to the bureau.

Their services vary, depending upon people's needs, Ren said. A special education and protection center will be available for the young, while the elderly and disabled can receive care assistance.

Entertainment activities will also be organized for the holidays, so they do not feel lonely.

For those who refuse to go to shelters, local civil affairs departments will provide quilts, blankets, coats and other materials to help protect them from the cold, officials said.

Over the winter, an emergency rescue team will keep an eye out for the homeless, regularly patrolling at train stations, beneath underpasses and bridges, as well as in culverts.

Police stations and urban management units will also be on hand to provide timely and effective relief work.

In a related development, more than 1,300 shelters in Guangzhou, which is hosting the first Asian Para Games from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19, are preparing to receive the homeless as a cold front moves in and temperatures plummet.

The temperature in the city, capital of Guangdong Province, which had an average temperature of 17 C on Monday is expected to drop to a low of 9 C on Wednesday, the city's meteorological bureau said.

The city's civil affairs bureau has required the shelters, which provide food, clothing and heating, to acquire more quilts and heating equipment, said bureau director Li Zhizhen.

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