Too poor to rate: thousands of homeless have the right to go to the polls

Hundreds of municipalities continue to ignore the issue of the homeless. Although there is a guarantee of Italian law

LOUIS Mastrodonato

A few days ago Michele De Pascale, Mayor of Ravenna at the head of a center-left coalition, It has issued a press release in which he invited the homeless of the city to go to the polls on 4 marzo. "In the upcoming parliamentary elections, are reminded registered voters in via dell'Anagrafe as citizens 'homeless' which can exercise their right to vote by going to the polling station No.. 1 set up at the primary school in Via Filippo Mordani ", it is read document. The City has also shown a number of related information, on the withdrawal of the electoral card and documentation required.

That the city of Romagna is a virtuoso case, that looks more like an oasis in the desert not as established practice. As they speak very little, in Italy the homeless have a subjective right to residence in a municipality - this beyond the actual availability of home - with all the rights that ensue, including the right to vote.

"If the homeless does not have an address or a real address in the City, but only it elects domicile in order to request and obtain birth registration, as his right, it presents the problem to indicate the address in the personal acts. In this case it appears necessary that even in the register to be set up via a, territorially non-existent, but it is known by a conventional name given by the officer of registry ", explains Istat warning of 1992, which in turn takes up the registry Law. 1228 of 24 December 1954.
The device is that of dummy via, an address constructed ad hoc by the local authorities, that does not exist materially, but that assumes legal value.

Today there are about two hundred Italian municipalities that have set up a fictitious street in them, a figure that tells the good practice of some, but the mismanagement of others. The absence of the fictional street in 75 percent of Italian municipalities with more than 15 thousand inhabitants, Parallel to the silence of these weeks of local governments on the subject - apart from the exception of Ravenna – results in massive denial and voluntary voting rights for the homeless.

"In Italy you lose the right to vote for civil incapacity, as a result of an irrevocable penal sentence, for special cases of moral unworthiness. And, although it is not written in the Constitution, if you live in the street ", explains Antonio Mumolo, president of Lawyer Road. "The 4 March tens of thousands of people, guilty only of being poor, They will be excluded from participating in votes. It is a clear violation of their constitutional rights but it is also a way to certify the total disregard for people living in a situation of extreme poverty, and that under the law would still have the right to reside ".

This marginalization of marginal fits perfectly into the current urban climate, the ordinance on the poorest raging from one end of the country. In December, the mayor of Como Mario Landriscina has earned the headlines with the decree that drove beggars and homeless outside the historic center of the city to 45 days. In Bologna, the city Daspi hit a group of homeless people who had taken shelter under the arches of a central street, while in recent months Trieste was invaded by two hundred billboards with the City logo, which they invited not to give money to beggars. closely related to the Measures security decree Interior Minister Marco Minniti, there where he asks, among other things, "The elimination from the cities of factors marginality and social exclusion".

"There are governments that are literally dwell on this point of the decree, with the elimination of marginalization factors which resulted in an expulsion of some people from city centers to resolve the question of decorum ", He explained Caterina Cortese, sociologist part of the Italian Federation of Organizations for the Homeless (FIO. PSD). "We're moving to ensure that municipalities develop means to best to implement the degradation prevention, promotion of human rights, construction of a culture of solidarity and social cohesion, points that are still expected in other parts of the decree ".

The awareness-raising and advocacy activities that the association is doing in recent weeks pre-election, to ensure the exercise of voting rights for the homeless, It goes in this direction. Among the most recent initiatives, there is the realization of a database with all the fictional streets Italian, a way to turn the spotlight on the theme, but also an important source of information on Italian state. "The call that we turn to the municipalities is to recognize the fictitious residence, because through the recognition of basic civil rights you can create a path of real inclusion ", Cortese continues.

The activism of associations such as the Road Lawyer and FIO.psd is crucial, because in addition to the absence of fictitious streets in many municipalities, It must also deal with initiatives that are likely to question the civil rights of homeless people there where they are already guaranteed. Last year the Roman administration of Virginia Rays has approved a resolution that avoca municipal services all birth registration practices of homeless. The third sector association, that with more experienced and at no charge had dealt with the matter until then, They have been so made out and this aroused their concern for a measure "may not provide the service to all citizens in social fragility".

In a generally negative national context, that in some cases tends to regress, ci are also good news. Last month the City of Thiene, in Veneto, has set up a virtual way for citizens to register the homeless - the Way of the Sant'Egidio Community. A sign that despite the fictitious streets legislation exists for decades, a positively change is still possible.

"The important thing is to maintain a proactive attitude, which also takes into account the existing virtuous cases. I like to think that of Ravenna, I like to think that already 200 municipalities have arranged their fictitious routes, I like to think, Finally, that in many the 4 March will work to accompany homeless people to vote ", Cortese concludes. "To expect a massive turnout in the elections of these people, people who have lost many things, it is discouraged, demotivata, is a very difficult mission. Us, though, we try".