Two homeless men dead in Barcelona after severe cold weather
Victims were 32 and 38 years old according to Fundació Arrels charity
After a weekend of low temperatures throughout Catalonia due to Storm Filomena, two homeless men have been found dead on the streets of Barcelona.
According to Fundació Arrels, a charity that assists homeless people, the men who passed away were 32 and 38 years old. On average, homelessness lowers a person's life expectancy by 20 years because of "the cold, the rain, violence, a lack of resources and insufficient social and medical services," the NGO denounced in a tweet.
While neither of the men displayed signs of violence according to the Mossos d'Esquadra police investigating the incidents, autopsies are yet to officially determine their causes of death.
Avui han mort al carrer dues persones que vivien al ras a Barcelona. Tenien només 32 i 38 anys i a un d’ells el coneixíem des d’Arrels. Les seves morts ens causen un dolor molt profund i ens empenyen a seguir endavant per aconseguir #ningúdormintalcarrer. pic.twitter.com/P3ADXg9zhg— Arrels Fundació (@ArrelsFundacio) January 11, 2021
One of the victims was found in the Catalan capital's Barceloneta neighborhood, near the beach, while the other was discovered in Ciutadella park.
Barcelona council open to "rethinking" services
The Barcelona city council, which has been providing homeless people with temporary housing at a Fira Montjuïc pavilion as temperatures dropped over the weekend, stated that one of the men refused an offer to stay at the shelter. The same exhibition center was used to house vulnerable people during the strict lockdown last spring.
When asked whether the council was providing adequate support to those in need, social action commissioner Sònia Fuertes claimed that her team was constantly considering new ways to tackle the problem and said she was open to "rethinking" their methods.
"It is never enough," Fuertes lamented on Monday, describing her dilemma as one in which social services are "removing water from a ship without the tools to see where the hole is."
According to Fuertes, the council already had 2,700 beds for homeless people in various facilities, with capacity expanded for 100 more last November. On Monday night, however, only 34 of these beds were being used. The commissioner also explained that nobody could be forced to enter a shelter.
Head of police demands "proactive attitude"
Meanwhile, the recently re-instated head of the Catalan Mossos police force, Josep Lluís Trapero, has ordered all of his officers to demonstrate a "proactive attitude" when it comes to dealing with people who are "homeless and at-risk" given the dangerously low temperatures.
Trapero, who sent all members of the force a letter on Tuesday, recognized the police's inability to "directly assist these citizens" but affirmed they could still identify people in need as well as "transfer information to and coordinate with social services."