Prague Homeless – The Hermes Boat
There are around 68,500 homeless people in the Czech Republic. Almost 120,000 adults and children live in unstable or unsuitable accommodation. At any given time about 5000 of them are Prague homeless.
Just under a quarter of the country’s homeless are women, almost 12 percent are under 18 and over 10 percent are aged 65 or more. City officials believe that of the 5,000 Prague homeless, around 80% of them are men. Debt, alcohol addiction and unemployment are cited as the main causes of homelessness.
As of 2016 the number of winter-weather beds available for Prague Homeless people was limited to just over 400. Centres are in place in the Michle, Žižkov and Holešovice districts of the city but there’s a boat on the River Vltava which on it’s own provides more than half of all the available Prague homeless accommodation in the city, it’s called Hermes.
The Hermes boat is permanently moored under the Stefanikuv Bridge and offers accommodation to the homeless all year at a charge of CZK20 per night. It can take 230 people in triple stacked bunk-beds.
Hermes began life in 1962 as a vessel designed for the transport of goods (a cargo barge). At the end of 2006 Prague City Hall provided close to 12 Million Czech Korun (£360,000) in order to reconstruct the ship for the purposes of providing an all-year-round dormitory for unaccompanied men and women. It began operation on January 2nd 2007 and has annual running costs of two million Czech Korun (£60,000).
Hermes does not just offer a safe place to sleep or the associated sanitary services. Within the Hermes people can find social legal advice, legal counselling, psychological counselling and a health clinic. Clients can use the follow-up services provided by other offices of the Prague Social Services Center such as family counselling, the RIAPS Crisis Center, a shelter home for homeless men, rehabilitation and non-integration programs, etc. These are all designed towards reintegrating homeless or socially deprived people back into society.
You must be:
In social or housing distress
With a valid ID/Passport or Travel document
Sober (no alcohol or drugs)
Hermes is not a guest house. You must enter between 7-30pm and 8-30pm and you are woken at 6am the following morning to be packed and gone by 6-30am. But it is both an integral and substantial part of city’s attempt to help the Prague homeless. You can read more about an official study of homelessness on the HoBohemia page. If you want to support the homeless then take a look at Novy Prostor – the Czech Big Issue page and for an example of the homeless made good then be inspired by the Story of Bohumil Fiala.