Poverty has become chronic, warns charity

Càritas calls for more affordable housing for people in vulnerable situation

Make-shift housing in Barcelona (by ACN)
Make-shift housing in Barcelona (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 31, 2018 02:13 PM

The main obstacle in the way of those trying to escape extreme poverty is getting adequate housing. This was one of the main conclusions of a report presented on Thursday by Càritas Barcelona, a religious organization dedicated to helping out people living on the edge of society.

Their findings are based on their experience in helping thousands of families living in a precarious situation. More than 12,000 families were attended to by Càritas in 2017 in the Catalan capital, more than half of whom were living on or below the breadline, in make-shift huts, sub-letted properties, vehicles, shelters, or on the street. In 2016, the figure was set at 44.5%.

Càritas has warned of an increase in the people it helped last year living without decent housing. Throughout 2017, the charity attended a total of 22,635 individuals who find themselves in marginalized circumstances, marking an increase of 1% compared to the previous year. The figure has more than doubled than since ten years ago, when they attended 10,000 people.

Up until April 2018, the situation has showed no signs of improving, with 25% of the families attended finding themselves homeless.

Helping hand

Càritas spent 2.8 million euros in direct economic aid in 2017, 10% more than the previous year. 47% of this was destined to sorting out people’s housing situations.

Despite this, there is a lack of affordable housing for people in vulnerable situations, according to the director of Càritas in Barcelona, Salvador Busquets, especially in Barcelona and the surrounding area. For this reason, the charity has called for rent regulation, as well as an increase in public housing from 2% to 15% of the European average, by creating 2,000 flats every year. The charity also demanded that for more rental assistance for families in need.

Chronic poverty

This is not just a problem in the capital. In the southern Catalan city of Tarragona, the situation is also dire.

The city’s wing of Càritas also warned that chronic poverty is an ever-present reality, even during a period of economic recovery. According to its own report, also presented on Thursday, having a job no longer guarantees decent living conditions.

Càritas attended 18,058 people in 2017, a figure showing no improvement on the previous year. A fact that, according to the charity’s director in Tarragona, Salvador Grané, demonstrates that poverty has become chronic.

Homelessness in Barcelona

There are 3,055 homeless in total in the Catalan capital: 956 'sleeping rough,' meaning on the street, and 2,099 housed in centers, according to a recent count carried out by an organization made up of 38 entities and the Barcelona City Council called  XAPSLL.

Last year, 1,026 people were sleeping on the street in the Catalan capital at the time of the tally, while 2,006 spent the night in XAPSLL centers; in total, there were 3,032 homeless in the city. In 2016, 2,847 were counted in total (940 sleeping rough, on the street, and 1,907 in centers of the network); in 2015, the number of those on the street was 892.