The problem

How do you end up on the street?

A person doesn’t end up on the street from one day to the next. Their situation gets worse from day to day and can include a range of causes; some of them have to do with the people themselves and others stem from the society that we live in.

  • Structural causes. Linked to their economic situation (like loss of work), the housing market (price of rent, evictions), migratory movements and the workings of public administration.
  • Institutional causes. Related to the rigidity of social services, the mechanisms of assistance, and institutional processes.
  • Discrimination or absence of legal status. Related to individual situations that people who have immigrated can face as well as some minorities, such as the gypsy community.
  • Relational causes. Linked to the family situation and to social support network of each individual (a divorce, for example, or the death of a family member).
  • Personal reasons. Related to education, age, addiction, and health.


Numbers and situation

Generally speaking, there are neither exact nor updated numbers available that allow us to establish how many people are sleeping on the street and to delimit the extent of the problem. The reasons for this are different according to the different territories involved.

  • In the European Union there is no common set of criteria between countries by which to account for how many people are sleeping on the street and who do not have a home, nor is there a total number.
  • The Spanish state obtains information, every two years, from the National Institute of Statistics. However, this information only takes into account the people who use housing and food resources and excludes other people who sleep on the streets and do not access these services. It is also necessary to take into account the fact that these counts are not carried out in all municipalities.
  • In Catalonia, we do not have an up to date number of how many people are sleeping rough. The latest figures are from 2014, provided by the Housing Agency of Catalonia (Agència de l’Habitatge de Catalunya), which estimate that there are some 5,433 people living on the street or in low maintenance resource spaces. These statistics only span people who have received public services. It is also important to take into account that there are not counts carried out in all the municipalities.
  • In Barcelona we know how many rough sleepers there are as we conduct counts regularly. In the last one, held in December 2023, we counted 1,384 people.