X-ray of life on the streets of Barcelona

  • Between 2016 and 2018, the number of people under 30 years of age who slept on the streets of the Catalan capital doubled due to the lack of unaccompanied minors leaving when they turned 18

  • The entities criticize that the pandemic arrived as a tsunami and caught them with their homework without doing (with a state plan against homelessness without a budget and a Catalan strategy in the drawer).

The youth of the two men who died of cold in the streets of Barcelona this Monday, both under 40 years old, hurts but it does not surprise the educators who work with the group, which has been warning of the increase in homeless youth in the Catalan capital. And it is not just a perception. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of people under the age of 30 who slept on the streets of Barcelona doubled. While in 2016 there were 136 young people who slept in the open in which the world is presented as a refuge city, in 2018 they did 292 (239 men and 57 women) according to data from the report ‘Qui dorm al carrer a Barcelona?’ published by the Barcelona City Council. He director of the ASSÍS reception center; Jesús Ruiz points out that this increase has many causes. The obvious, the difficulty of accessing the house, but also others, such as the lack of exit resources for minors who migrated as children and when they reached the age of majority were left on the street, without a roof, a network or a work permit.

Lack of a global vision

“The pandemic has shown us that we are running late. A health and social crisis like a tsunami has hit us and we hadn’t done our homework. There is a state plan to combat homelessness 2015-2020 who was born without a budget and a Catalan strategy agreed with the entities and drawn up since 2028 in a drawer. If we had come to this moment with these policies developed, perhaps another rooster would crow. A more global vision is necessary as a country to stop working since the emergency, ”Ruiz summarizes with knowledge of the cause.

People sleeping on the street

72% increase in 10 years

The extreme precariousness of housing and the labor market did, long before the pandemic, that Hundreds of people lived on the edge of the abyss and walked in and out of the street, when they got a job that would allow them to pay a pension. With the current health and economic crisis, not only is it impossible for them to get out, but new people have fallen into that abyss. According to data from Arrels, there are 4,200 homeless people in Barcelona, of which 1,239 sleep on the street. The figure of the 2,452 people who slept at some point in the street during 2018 (collected in the aforementioned study of the town hall) supposes a cumulative increase of 72% in 10 years. Of 45.3% if only the figures of a specific day are taken, despite the 80% increase in places in hostels in the city.

European problem

The most notable growth is that of foreign men of community nationality, which have gone from 343 in 2008 to 933 in 2018. Among them, the most common country of origin is Romania (438).

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20 years shorter life expectancy

“Living on the street kills. from the cold, from the heat, from being exposed to all kinds of violence … ”, says the director of Assisi. The average age of the people who died on the street in the Catalan capital is 62 years old, according to Arrels (maximum connoisseur of this reality, since every year it celebrates an act of tribute to the deceased people in this situation); while the Spanish life expectancy is 20 years higher. A study of Hatento Observatory, Spanish observatory of hate crimes against homeless people, revealed in 2015 that one in two homeless people have suffered a hate crime (47%).


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