Homeless on the banks of Rome's Tiber River

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Homeless on the banks of Rome's Tiber River
A toy horse sits on a fence by a homeless person's shelter in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A homeless person's shelter stands in Rome, Italy March 13, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Children's toys lie under a bridge by the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A homeless man sleeps next to his shelter by the Tiber river in Rome, Italy March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Shoes hang to dry next homeless houses under a bridge on the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A homeless person's shelter stands under a bridge on the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A fireplace is seen next to a homeless shelter under a bridge by the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A shelter belonging to a homeless person is seen under a bridge by the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Homeless peoples' shelters stand in Rome March 13, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Belongings lie outside a homeless person's shelter in Rome, Italy March 13, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A television set and other belongings are seen outside a homeless person's shelter in Rome, Italy March 13, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Shelters belonging to homeless people stand under a bridge near the Tiber river in Rome March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Belongings of homeless people are seen along the Tiber river in Rome, Italy March 10, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A grill is seen outside a homeless shelter in Rome, Italy March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Pots and pans belonging to a homeless person are seen by the Tiber river in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Homeless houses are seen under a bridge on the Tiber river in Rome, Italy March 14, 2016. On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make shelters, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can. This corner of the city is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. REUTERS/Max Rossi SEARCH "ROSSI HOMELESS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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ROME, April 20 (Reuters) - On the banks of Rome's historic Tiber River, the homeless use wood, cardboard and plastic tarpaulins to make a shelter, protecting themselves from the elements as best they can.

This corner of the city's Prati neighborhood is a far cry from the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum or other parts of the Italian capital thronged by visitors from the world over. Nearby are the headquarters of the Italian national broadcaster RAI.

Belongings in plastic bags hang on nails hammered into the wall of a pedestrian arch under a bridge that spans the Tiber. Litter is strewn on the ground and, with no washing or toilet facilities in the makeshift settlement, the acrid smell of life on the streets is hard to ignore.

People end up living on the streets mainly because of losing their jobs and divorce or the breakdown of a relationship. Even so, with no residency papers, many of the homeless people Reuters spoke to were reluctant to tell their stories for fear of problems with the authorities.

"That's life," says Gerard, 60, from the Netherlands, his sparkling blue eyes filled with sadness. He sleeps on an old mattress in a pedestrian tunnel under the Tiber.

Victor, 46, from Romania lost his job as a bricklayer. Vassily, also from Romania, says he is unable to work because of problems with his back.

According to ISTAT, Italy's National Statistics Institute, more than 50,000 people used an official night shelter for at least one night in November and December 2014.

Many of the homeless here are from overseas. Maria, 38, comes from Romania and lives on the banks of the Tiber with her husband.

The highest proportion of homeless people is found in northwestern Italy, accounting for 38 pct of the total. Italy's business capital Milan has 24 pct of the total, followed by Rome with 15 pct.

Whatever their stories, told or untold, the future for these homeless people gathered on the banks of a river is far from certain. Even when they do manage to get a place in an overnight shelter, after hours of queuing, they have to leave early the next morning, they say.

For another day on the streets.

Homeless Shelter Abuse

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