Due to low temperatures in Vienna, the demand for warm places for homeless people to sleep has increased again.
That’s why Vienna Caritas restarted its annual “Crypto Winter Package” fundraising campaign on Thursday to support those in need during the cold season. With 70 euros you can finance a winter-proof sleeping bag and seven hot meals. The campaign is supported by Ö3 presenter Robert Kratky.
Caritas and Kratky are asking for donations for the Vienna Tomb
“The weather has been very cold in the last few days,” Caritas director Klaus Schwertner said at a press conference held at the Gruft homeless facility near Mariahilfer Straße. “It is unthinkable for people to sleep outside in this heat.” The occupancy rate at various emergency shelters is currently almost 95 percent.
Schwertner and Kratky Caritas on the road with their cold bus
Schwertner had been traveling with Kratky on the Caritas cooling bus the night before to offer assistance to homeless people who wanted to spend the night outside. A man who had just been released from the hospital and did not know where to go was given one of the last places he could sleep in the grave. Schwertner said he saw “gratitude and happiness” in the man’s eyes that he can’t forget even after 15 years of working at Caritas.
Kratky: “This is very sad and you are ashamed to be in such good shape”
Kratky was also emotional after his night duty at Caritas. They visited places such as the Danube Island, Lusthaus and Prater, which are beautiful sightseeing spots for Vienna. “And now you’re going through the bush looking for people trying to survive there,” the radio host said. “It’s very sad and you feel ashamed that you’re doing so well,” says Kratky. He acted knowing that he could go into his apartment and take a hot shower in a few hours, but that homeless people cannot do this. He thanked Caritas employees and participated in the winter package campaign with 5,000 euros.
“The current inflation crisis has left its mark on many people”
“The current inflation crisis has left its mark on many people,” Schwertner said. “We are already seeing increased pressure on people.” This was also reported by a former homeless person who lived on Danube Island 20 years ago and has now found an apartment again. Markus Jokl said that all he had at the time was “a backpack and a sack”. But he still has to fight inflation and hopes to have “enough money in his pocket” by the last day of the month. 20,000 people are homeless in Austria, 60 percent of them live in Vienna. The number of evictions has also increased recently.
Schwertner emphasized the importance of emergency aid during winter months
Schwertner emphasized that the winter emergency aid coming from the City of Vienna and the Vienna Social Fund, together with aid organizations such as Caritas, is extremely important aid. However: “We want the winter emergency aid to be permanent in the summer as well. Because homelessness occurs 365 days a year.” At the federal level, there have been renewed calls for welfare reform and an action plan for affordable housing. “A government rent ceiling will achieve little. What is needed is social welfare reform and a focus on people’s real housing needs,” Schwertner said. Without donations, Caritas’ help would not be possible.
Caritas currently has more than 1,880 places to stay in Vienna
Caritas currently offers a total of more than 1,880 accommodation spaces in Vienna. These include 210 places in six emergency shelters such as crypts. 237 hot meals are served here every day. The 60 beds operate at full capacity almost every night. Judith Hartweger, who handed over the management after 13 years, said: “From November 2022 to today, 18,558 people spent the night in the cellar.”
Caritas expanded its street work range
Caritas expanded the scope of its street work at the beginning of November in order to reach people who could not find their way in the neighborhoods. Teams protest on the streets of Vienna every day. Caritas’ mobile soup buses also operate 365 days a year; Up to 200 liters of soup are distributed per evening, a total of 90,000 bowls of soup per year. The Caritas cold helpline is also important and can be reached around the clock on 01/480 45 53. Special persons can provide information about where homeless people sleep, and street workers can visit them as soon as possible. Last year alone, this number was called more than 9,700 times. 1,660 calls were recorded in the past four weeks.
Caritas donation accountIBAN: AT163100000404050050, BIC: RZBAATWW, password: “Crypt winter package”, Online donations: www.gruft.at or wirhelfer.shop/winterpaket