World Association of the Major Metropolises
The Open Arms Program is an innovative Municipal Policy designed for people in situation of extreme vulnerability, homeless and in use of psychoactive substances. It is an inclusive policy, since it offers people shelter, work, and income, healthcare and respects human rights.
The Open Arms Program offers the possibility for harm reduction by the use of open spaces and contact with society as an alternative to closed clinics and internment. The intervention sets a milestone in the change on the approach towards homeless people, with a high degree of social vulnerability associated with the used of illicit drugs (crack, in this case). The new municipal program proposes, besides combating drug trafficking, also inter-department interventions, with the participation of the Departments of Health, Labor, Social Assistance, Human Rights and Urban Security. The participant must perform a janitorial labor, such as sweeping public parks and squares, for four hours a day, and attend two hours of capacity building courses every day. In exchange, he/she receives a room in a Hotel in downtown São Paulo; three daily meals; $ 7.00 per day of activities, composed by four hours workday and two hours of capacity building courses. The results are very positive. Firstly, there is a considerable decrease on the usage of psychoactive substances, as well as changes in usage pattern of those included in the program. Secondly, there is a constitution of new collectives between the users. These people after moving to hotels, they now have a bed to sleep in, a shower, etc. In addition, an expressive number of participants reunited with their families after seeking help on the program. Finally, urban administrators gained experience on promoting an inter-department Project, through collaborative and co-responsible actions.