alessia cadamuro

During Fictitious Address research process, I took the decision to give to the homeless the relevant voice in this work. By this I also mean to say that, after consulting people and the law, I now leave the last word to the homeless themselves. I asked them to explain to me the main problem that they have, in terms of legality and social identity. The subject of our conversation was the loss of residence and related such as missing documents. I wanted to understand the severity of this problem, and I tried to learn what and where are the people living on the street find difficulties in getting their documents back. The protagonists of this conversation were: me, Cris (Cristoforo), Diego, and Andrea a street layer.

Researcher: Cristoforo, can you tell us your story?

Cris: I don’t have a family, I was a wood carpenter and many years ago I had an incident at work and now I have a disability pension. I was born 79 years ago in Pescara. I lived in a car for 9 years. About 6 years ago I was robbed of my wallet and consequently I lost my documents. I immediately reported the accident to the police; then I also went to the City hall to ask for an Identity card. I waited for a while before receiving an answer and then they told me I could not have an ID card because I needed to provide a certification such as my birth certificate to prove my identity, furthermore I was rejected and badly treated because I lived in my car. As I said before I don’t have family and for me is impossible to request my birth certificate without a document or someone from my family that can help me with it.

Researcher: According to Italian law this would not be a sufficient reason to deny an application for an ID card? So you are telling me that are 6 years that you don’t own any document or personal identification.

Cris: For many years I tried to ask for a document but it was always denied. My situation was getting worse day by day... I did not have any money because I could not take my pension. I was very depressed. I spoke with the volunteers of a dormitory for homeless people and they found for me a place where I could sleep. I also explained my problems to the volunteers. These guys have started to help me: they went to the city hall and protested through a newspaper... there is an article with my name... but with regards to my document there was nothing they could do...After 3 years of protests and requests to the mayor, the city hall gave me my Identity Card. At 79 years old, I’m once again a citizen of the Italian State. I was a victim of a big injustice and what is worse is that I got the ID Card, not because it was my right, but because my story started to make too much noise and consequently citizens began to protest. My address is now in the dormitory where I usually sleep. I could not have imagined all of these difficulties...

Researcher: In your opinion why is it so difficult for the homeless to have an ID card and a residency?

Cris: I think there is too little information about this problem. I was sent every day to different offices. I also did not know what to do, and where to turn. The volunteers of the dormitory didn’t know what to do. I think there is ignorance and discrimination against the homeless. For many who work at the City hall, since we don’t have a home, we also do not have any right to exist, we are not like other people...

Researcher: Do you know others who have experienced your problem?

Cris: Ha, yes! Yes, most of the people who sleep in my dormitory don’t have documents. I would say almost all of them.

Diego: I’m 27 years old, and for 4 years I’ve been living without a home. I ran away from my family house because I had drug problems and troubles with my family. Now I do not have documents. I made the first request to have a new ID card about one and half years ago. So far I have not received any response.

Researcher: What happens if the police stop you?

Diego: When the police stop me, and this happens very often, they lead me to the police station, where they take my fingerprints...

It happens every time. After one night in the police station I’m again on the street.

Researcher: What are you doing now to solve this problem?

Diego: By going to have dinner at the Caritas’s soup kitchen, I found a flyer from the street layers. I went to them, and I explained my situation. Now they are handling my case. Two weeks ago I did not know anything about their existence.

Andrea, street layer: The residence is a fundamental prerequisite for all people, and not only for the homeless, because if you don’t have a residence and an address it means you are invisible, and this situation become even more difficult when a person loses his documents. Normal people don’t reflect on this problem, because everyone has a house and for most people it is difficult to understand what it means to be without it. If you lose your home and your documents you can easily get into a spiral that is difficult to exit. Without residency and documents you cannot work, you have no right to health care (except emergency care), you can’t have a house and you cannot vote, more important you can not prove who you are in front of the law and you lose your basic rights.

How can a person who lives on the street return to a normal life?

At this time we are helping Diego to get residence in the dorm where he has slept for more than a year. We advised the municipality but if they won’t respond we will start a lawsuit.

Researcher: Talking to you I realize that there are two fundamental issues to consider:

1 The importance of receiving information on this specific topic (because this information is absent).

2 The importance of having a physical address, that allows the homeless eligibility to obtain documents and certificates.

Andrea, street layer: Yes, indeed. Otherwise it will be necessary to understand how to reconnect the bond between each homeless person and his family, and ask to their family members to help them to collect the birth certificate and after that to have back their ID... but what about homeless people with no family members alive? or families that are absolutly refusing any type of reconnections? In this case is important to find a more democratic way to protect basic rights.

Cris: First of all, I think it is important that this information is visible and accessible to every person who lives on the street... because we don’t know anything about it. We understand where to go, but we also need to understand to whom we can ask if we need help and advice. Ask dormitories, soup kitchens and organizations that deal with homeless people to become witnesses for our presence in the territory. When we enter a dormitory, people who work there always ask us for our name. These people have been known us for years. In these places perhaps we can have our address, although it is only temporary. We should tell those who live on the street that they have rights and should not to be afraid of asking for information and help.


a dialogue to comprehend reality

Alessia Cadamuro - credits

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