Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a refuge for the homeless in Bangkok, will no longer be an available haven starting September.
A Glimpse Into the Lives of the Homeless
Uan, a 53-year-old woman, once a lottery winner, found herself homeless on Ratchadamnoen Avenue after her money ran out. With their lives in the open, the homeless people on Ratchadamnoen Avenue face a new challenge as the Phra Nakhon District Office has announced that it will no longer allow them to sleep there from September onwards. According to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, there were 2,499 homeless people in Thailand in 2023, with 1,217 in Bangkok, out of which 500-600 occupy areas in Phra Nakhon district.
Fencing Off the Avenue
Fences will be installed along Ratchadamnoen Avenue to prevent the homeless from sleeping on the road and to stop hoarders from littering. The regulation is seen by some as a means to improve the city landscape and ensure safety for pedestrians and locals. However, critics argue that this move is just window dressing that will only push them out of one area and into another.
The Struggle to Adapt
The homeless in the area face difficulties in adjusting to the new regulation. Tip Sakda, a 52-year-old homeless man, stated that public agencies should offer proper shelter and job opportunities for the homeless. Pai Sontiwong, 44, also expressed his concern over the fence plan and requested more help from the agencies. The Mirror Foundation has a program for homeless people, providing job opportunities and affordable apartments, but the scope of work is still small compared to the number of homeless in the district.
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and its network have established two drop-in stations in Sake Alley and under Somdet Phra Pinklao Bridge. These stations offer assistance on healthcare, welfare, laundry services, bathrooms, job employment, and apartments. Reports suggest that the BMA is discussing the possibility of reintroducing emergency shelters for the homeless in Phra Nakhon district.
The BMA, the Mirror Foundation, and their network are pushing projects to offer jobs and affordable apartments for the homeless, as well as helping them gain access to state welfare. Their efforts aim to prevent these individuals from returning to a cycle of homelessness and provide a better quality of life.