Vienna supermarket’s ‘anti-homeless measures’

Vienna supermarket's 'anti-homeless measures'
Photo: Flora Petrik / Facebook
A Billa supermarket in Vienna has sparked outrage on social media after it blocked access to a ventilation grill that was often used by homeless people to warm themselves in winter.

There was a similar storm of protest in London, UK, after metal spikes were installed to deter homeless people from sleeping outside a block of flats – with pictures of the building going viral.

Anti-homeless spikes have also been installed outside supermarkets in London, but after an outcry from human rights campaigners, some of the spikes were removed.

However the trend seems to have spread, with a Billa supermarket in Vienna installing a barrier in front of a ventilation grill often used by homeless people to warm themselves in the cold Austrian winters, reported the Austrian daily newspaper Heute.

"Since I live here, homeless people have warmed themselves in the colder months using this ventilation shaft in front of Billa. I shop there often and have never noticed that they have asked people for donations, food, or the like …. Now, from one day to the next, this shaft is blocked …. Fight poverty, not the poor! The shut-off must go! Solidarity instead of inhumanity," wrote one Billa customer on the supermarket's Facebook page.
The Billa branch in the Wiedner Hauptstrasse responded on Facebook, saying "We want to state that the grid is a security measure intended to protect people, and is not about 'displacement' of homeless people in front of the store."

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