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NGO finds 1,195 homeless people living in Barcelona

549 volunteers scour the Catalan capital’s streets with Fundació Arrels


13 June 2019 06:09 PM


Cristina Tomàs White|Barcelona

Fundació Arrels, a Barcelona-based NGO that combats homelessness, has found 1,195 people living on the streets of Barcelona in its 2019 headcount census.

549 volunteers combed through the streets of 61 of Barcelona’s neighborhoods in the early hours of June 13 to make note of all the homeless people they encountered. Of the 1,195 that were accounted for, only 339 were open to answering a 34-point questionnaire on their situation in exchange for €5 and a practical guide to homeless living in the city.

The volunteers, however, were required to answer questions on each of the 1,195 people they found based on where the homeless person was located, what they were wearing, and their behavior, when and where applicable.

Fundació Arrels promotes an annual headcount census since 2016 to more adequately estimate the number of people on the street as well as to understand how homelessness in the city has evolved over the past years, what services are needed and what policies should be backed. It also sees the census as a way of spreading awareness of the issue among the population.

Last year another census was also promoted by XAPSLL, a network set up to aid the homeless in Barcelona and to which Arrels belongs, but this year XAPSLL decided not carry it out as the city council cited budgetary reasons, claiming that their outreach workers already interact with all of the city’s homeless.

Ferran Busquets, the NGO’s director, has proposed creating smaller halfway houses for 10 to 15 people at various points in the city while they await more permanent fix to a problem that has become more aggravated in the past year – in 2018, the Arrels and XAPSLL census found 956 homeless people living on the city’s streets while the Arrels census found 831.

Busquets said that homelessness has increased because, as a society, “we are not doing our homework.” Busquets also affirmed that the 800 new homes that have been added to the city’s social housing offering in the past few years are insufficient considering the demand needed for these people who “live up to 20 years less than other citizens.”


  • Fundació Arrels volunteers speak to a homeless man (Miquel Codolar/ACN)

  • Fundació Arrels volunteers speak to a homeless man (Miquel Codolar/ACN)