Tor Bella Monaca. Urban Degradation and Social Issues. Report from an inconvenient suburb of Rome

Monday, 23 December 2013
Report from one of the municipalities with the highest demand for social services in the capital

The neighborhood of Tor Bella Monaca shows in a very large part most of the issues that afflict large segments of the population living in the suburbs of the capital of Italy. It 's a district with a unique history and specific problems, it was already born with a destiny of ghetto to house many poor families from different backgrounds and social exclusions (including many ex-prisoners) who can not afford an home and need to access the social housing.
Along with other areas of the Eighth Municipality of Rome this suburban district attracts a huge demand for social services, services which are in charge of the public administrations and of social enterprises who have contracted such a delicate task. The neighborhood has seen a lot of alarming situations and has gone into the headlines for many episodes of degradation and mismanagement, but it is a place that despite its problematic nature hides many valuable initiatives that are completely self-managed by the people, with the aim to culturally and socially re-evaluate this territory in which they live, and is often made, indeed almost always, in the absence of public institutions.
This is true in part. The Theatre of Tor Bella Monaca and other social services were possible thanks to local authorities. Government in such social frontiers like this suburb, is the only intermediate between people and municipal or national governments and oscillates between a role of single resource of vital services to citizens and at the same time acting as a serious obstacle to the full realization of important associative or private initiatives.
This ambiguity too often happens in this country, where the public affairs seem to be managed in an almost feudal manner.
Corruption is a major concern of Italy, which now lies in international rankings in positions like those of Uganda, over or around the 70th. The case of the Eighth Municipality is truly exemplary for this national moment.
Local administration in a very non-transparent series of acts has reallocated the already limited resources for basic social services such as those for the disabled people or the not self-sufficient elders, whether are these provided in the form of home or school care whether are provided in special structures that offer a more active assistance (day care centres).
Public money is very little today but what surprises is that in times of deep crisis such as these, in this country a very unclean use of public money still can so negatively affects basic services and skilled jobs, and local administrations do not even bother to deal with the public stakeholders. In times like these, transparency should be the top priority of any political class.
Obviously there is little wonder, that's still the way it is run most of the country. In places such as the Eighth Municipality of Rome - which is so starved of vital services - corruption or the simple inability to manage public money by the political class are responsible not only for paralyzing the economy but also to bring down the welfare of entire families. Families with elderly disabled children, to whom also a minimum of welfare is subtracted.
In the stories we present here, there is also the struggle initiated by users of a cooperative enterprise in the social area, mostly elderly, disabled or in need of vital assistance. The protest is due to the sudden shift of funds for day-care centres and other services to the person, that risk to close within a few months.
Several requests to meet with politicians have never been answered, thus forcing the people to occupy the municipality to get a response from the institutions. The last occupation took place on 22 October, in fact there was a risk that within a month all funds were suspended.
In the gallery we also present some portraits of the elderly, disabled or not, in the day-care centre, where they join various recreational and training activities, which allow them a continuous social interaction and cultural stimulus what in the solitude of the home-care they could not experience.


©2012 text and photos by Marco Palladino – all rights reserved




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