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Almost 900 homeless sleeping on Barcelona’s streets, according to the Fundació Arrels

The Fundació Arrels (Arrels Foundation) – a Barcelona-based NGO dedicated to homeless people founded in 1987 – registered 892 persons sleeping on the streets of the Catalan capital on Wednesday night. More than 700 volunteers – in groups of three or four – combed the city divided up into 160 areas from midnight until 2 am. The initiative aimed at counting people sleeping on the streets: inside ATM lobbies, under bridges, on benches of public parks, in front of private entrances or nearby train stations. Barcelona's local Ombudsman service – an institution for the defence of rights and public liberties – also took part, through the presence of some of its staff among the volunteers. According to Maria Assumpció Vilà, Head of Barcelona's Ombudsman office, the reality certified by the Arrels Foundation is "absolutely unacceptable".  "An emergency plan must be launched urgently", she stressed, as the Catalan capital cannot accept having 900 people without a place to sleep.

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27 May 2015 09:17 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Fundació Arrels (Arrels Foundation) – a Barcelona-based NGO dedicated to homeless people founded in 1987 – registered 892 persons sleeping on the streets of the Catalan capital on Wednesday night. More than 700 volunteers – in groups of three or four – combed the city divided up into 160 areas from midnight until 2 am. The initiative aimed at counting people sleeping on the streets: inside ATM lobbies, under bridges, on benches of public parks, in front of private entrances or nearby train stations. Barcelona's local Ombudsman service – an institution for the defence of rights and public liberties – also took part, through the presence of some of its staff among the volunteers. According to Maria Assumpció Vilà, Head of Barcelona's Ombudsman office, the reality certified by the Arrels Foundation is "absolutely unacceptable".  "An emergency plan must be launched urgently", she stressed, as the Catalan capital cannot accept having 900 people without a place to sleep.


While recognising the efforts made by Barcelona's City Council in building new residential centres and apartments for homeless people, for Vilà, setting up a specific emergency plan requires a specific budget. First of all, a complete examination of the profiles and needs of those affected by this social plague must be provided and later on customised solutions must be sought.

Among the 700 volunteers who hit the streets on Wednesday night, thirty have been or currently are homeless. With this initiative, the Arrels Foundation aims both at updating statistical information about people sleeping on the streets and raising awareness on this painful reality within society.

892: the minimum number of people sleeping on the street every day

According to the Foundation's Director, Ferran Busquets, "the 892 people counted represent the minimum number of people sleeping on the street every day because there are many places in the city where we know people camp out but which we could not access".

The organisation's volunteers patrolled all districts of the city. However, they were unable to access city parks which are closed during the night, such as the Ciutadella Park or areas particularly hidden and far away such as Collserola and Montjuïc. The districts of Ciutat Vella, Eixample and Sants-Montjuïc were those where the highest concentration of people sleeping rough was recorded on Wednesday night.

The methodology used by Arrels is widespread worldwide

Since 1987 Arrels has been working with homeless people in the city of Barcelona, having given support to more than 9,000 individuals through its activities, by offering them housing, meals, social attention and healthcare.

The methodology used by the Catalan NGO is widespread worldwide and has proved to be the only reliable one to detect the scale of the phenomenon periodically. Possessing accurate information about how many people sleep on the street is vital information in order to later decide the amount of resources to be allocated to it.

According to the Foundation's website, "Nobody ends up on the street from one day to the next". Behind this social plague, "there are many and varied reasons: some depend on the person and others have to do with our society". In Catalonia, about 37,000 people suffer serious housing problems, of which 11,500 do not have a home.

79.2% of homeless people in Barcelona suffer chronic mental or physical disorders

In the Catalan capital, the number of homeless people is around 3,000, according to the Arrels Foundation's website. 892 of them were counted on Wednesday night. The Xarxa d’Atenció a Persones Sense Llar (Network of Attention to Homeless People) confirms that 900 people sleep rough, 600 people use irregular settlements and the rest depend on public and private resources to spend the night.

According to data provided by the Fundació Arrels, 90% of homeless people are men and only 10% women. Their life expectancy is 58 years (in comparison to the average of 82.2 years for Catalonia overall). Half of them have children and are looking for a job, while 44.5% have not had their own home for more than three years. 54% are Spanish nationals and 60% have attended secondary school. Finally, 79.2% suffer from chronic disorders, mental or physical.

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  • Volunteers searching for homeless people throughout the city of Barcelona (by G. Sánchez)

  • Volunteers searching for homeless people throughout the city of Barcelona (by G. Sánchez)