Where does an 18-year-old student seeking shelter from domestic violence or a family who loses its home because of a spike in rental prices go?

With demand surpassing supply, space at shelters is running out, so the Catholic Action Movement (AKM) is joining other NGOs in providing temporary relief for those who end up homeless overnight.

Regina Pacis in Balzan is being converted into a home to provide temporary shelter to a family in need or a small group of homeless people.

The temporary shelter in Balzan.The temporary shelter in Balzan.

General secretary Sarah Caruana told the Times of Malta the movement was increasingly meeting families who could no longer afford their rent and ended up homeless overnight. They would need temporary shelter for a couple of months until they could get back on their feet, she added.

At the moment, the Church NGO refers homeless people to other organisations that provide shelter or, when possible, even hosts people at its retreat house in Birkirkara.

Those who end up homeless include young people who do not qualify for protection from the State, such as those trying to escape a domestic violence environment.

Increasingly meeting families who could not afford their rent

Ms Caruana said care homes did not cater for 18-year-olds who ran away from abuse and those who were still studying could not afford to live independently.

Read: Number of officially homeless in Malta is 'not a reality’

The number of homeless people seems to be on the increase, with two main charities providing shelter to homeless people telling the Times of Malta the official data showing that 27 people were sleeping rough between 2013 and 2018 was a far cry from reality.

When last month’s storm battered the country, homeless people who usually sleep rough on beaches and in boats struggled to find shelter, with many seeking refuge in cars or abandoned properties.

There is still a lot of work to be done at the Regina Pacis home and the AKM is in need of either volunteers who can finish the house with the donated material or funds that would allow it to hire workers. It is hoping to complete the house by the end of the year.

More information on how to help out with the Regina Pacis project on info@akmalta.org or 2122 2239.

Donations can be sent to the AKM at the Catholic Institute in Floriana or by making a deposit in Bank of Valletta account MT27VALL22013000000040023865211.

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