"What do you know about how my life once was? Now you only see these last years that are like the handle of a knife stabbed deep into my side." Ángel González
Who are the homeless? Which are the causes of this phenomenon? How many homeless people are there in Barcelona? And in Spain? What health problems do they suffer from? How do they manage to eat? Why have they been left without friends or family? In this website we aim to give you clues and enough information related to these questions, but do not just stay on the surface of figures and statistics. Do not forget that behind every life history there is a person. As the poet says: "Qué sabes tú de lo que fue mi vida?"
Arrels Fundació adheres to the criterion of FEANTSA , European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, and prefers to use the term “homeless” rather than “roofless”. By the latter we refer to mere absence of a roof, and by the former we emphasize the experiential, familial, cultural and support-related aspects of this phenomenon. Thus, we are referring to people who have lost more than a place to live and lack both affective ties and resources.
According to the National Institute for Statistics, in a survey published in December 2005, which to date is the only nationwide study which considers a large and representative sample of homeless people, the profile of this subpopulation is:
83% are men, with the mean age being 38 and a monthly average income of around €302.
37.5% have been without accommodation of their own for more than three years, and around 50% are actively seeking employment
14.2% obtain income from begging
46% have children
30% are teetotal and have never taken illegal drugs
64.8% have taken secondary education and 13.3% have higher education qualifications
17.5% receive welfare benefits and services
51,.8% are Spanish nationals and 48.2% are foreign nationals.
Traditional profile of a homeless person:
Experience teaches us that everybody can be at some point in a situation of homelessness. Despite that, we commonly think of it as a circumstance which is external to us and will never have an impact on our lives.
suffering from alcoholism
coming from disadvantaged social background and with low educational attainment
New profiles of homeless people:
adult men, separated or divorced
homes joves amb problemes familiars
adult men and women with current or former problems of substance abuse
young and adult women suffering from domestic violence, and involved in processes of separation or divorce
higher levels of educational attainment
people suffering from mental health problems
Regarding the main sources of income:
21% have unknown sources of income
19.9% from employment
7.4% from selling objects or providing services sporadically
14.2% from begging on the streets
9.2% from friend and acquaintances and 7.2% from relatives
7% from contributory benefits of different types
5% from non-contributory pensions and 4% from Minimum Inclusion Income
5% from other benefits and NGO’s, or have no income at all
Contrary to the widespread perception that homeless people survive thanks to welfare benefits, the data collected by INE suggests that 27.3% of the cases have formal or informal employment as its main source of income. Social networks (relatives, friend and acquaintances) constitute the main source of income for 16.4% the sample, whereas begging accounts for 14.2%. From the remainder, it should be highlighted that there is a 21% of the sample whose source of income cannot be accounted for.
Only 16% have an income thanks to public assistance.
Minimum Inclusion Income and Non-contributory pensions, which are the welfare schemes that are central to the fight against exclusion, constitute the main source of income for 9% of the sample, whereas contributory pensions (retirement, incapacity, widowhood, and unemployment benefits) account for the income of 7%.
Regarding the actual amount of money received monthly:
49.6% receive up to 300€ per month
10.9% receive between 301 and 450€ per month
8.9% receive between 451 and 600€ per month
6.4% receive more than 600€ per month
24.1% do not know or do not answer
These figures refer to year 2005. That year, the average price of a accommodation in an cheap hostel in the gothic town of Barcelona was 14.26€ per night per person, 428€ per month. A meal (lunch or dinner) would then cost 5.39€, or 323€ per month. Thus, a homeless person would have needed a minimum 751€ to be able to have two meals a day and a roof over their heads. And yet, more than 70% of the individuals interviewed had incomes lower than the minimum estimate.
Why does a person end up on the streets? Causes of the phenomenon:
Is separation a sufficient reason for becoming homeless?
Job loss or unemployment?
Lack of economic resources?
Mental health problems or addictions?
The death of a loved one?
None of these are sufficient causes to explain an individual falling into a situation of social exclusion, and yet if these circumstances occur simultaneously, or one after the other, a person is more likely to suffer from a severe personal breakdown. We need to understand that the process of exclusion is dynamic and multidimensional; that is, a person does not become homeless overnight, but rather his or her situation deteriorates over time, albeit not in a linear manner. On the other hand, it is multidimensional because it is the confluence of factors that characterises exclusion. For example:
An older person, with low skills, loses his or her job and becomes a widow or widower simultaneously
A woman with mental health problems and no family support
A young person suffering from addictions that has been evicted
A person without economic resources which has been diagnosed with an illness.
According to the Report by Síndic de Greuges "The phenomenon of homelessness in Catalonia: people, administrations and organisations” (2005), there are 18 million people affected by residential exclusion, out of which 2,5 milion people are homeless (living on the streets or in emergency shelter)
According to the National Institute for Statistics (2005), the estimated number of homeless people across Spain is 19,000.
According to the report prepared by the Department of Social Welfare in 2001, commissioned by the Parliament of Catalonia, there are 8,043 homeless persons across 225 municipalities.
In Barcelona there are an estimated 2891 homeless: 838 people in the street, 1258 do residential resources of government and social organizations, and people live in 695 settlements. This is an 32.1% more people than four years ago, according to the Network of Care for Homeless.
How much money is spent to solve this problem?
According to the study by Pedro José Cabrera Cabrera, La acción social con personas sin hogar en España, edited by Cáritas Española and Universidad Pontificia Comillas de Madrid, in 2001, the budget for this task in Spain is low. A generous estimate shows that around 60 million Euros (10,000 milion pesetas) are allocated to help homeless people. This means that the network of assistance has between 15€ (2,400 ptas.) and 19€ (3,100 ptas.) available per day and per person to cover all expenses (from food, clothes and accommodation, to maintenance and staff costs). Public funds only cover 54% of the total costs. The rest is obtained thanks to the generosity of private donations (42%), and even the contributions made by the users of Arrels themselves (1.1%), which is very close to the contributions made by businesses (1.25%).