In Barcelona, more than 1,200 people live directly on the street. It’s the Catalan municipality that welcomes the most people living in the open and also the one that offers the most public and private responses, although insufficient.
Making sure that there’s #nobodysleepingonthestreet cannot be done only from a single municipality because the structural reasons go further. Barcelona City Government, however, can implement effective policies that reduce homelessness. We list a series of proposals to the Barcelona government (and to the opposition parties). Some proposals look at the short term and seek to immediately reduce homelessness whilst at the same time other alternatives are promoted for transformations in the medium and long term.
Guarantee the right to housing, beyond social services.
Public housing in Barcelona does not exceed 2% and homeless people often find it difficult to access it. The Plan to Fight Homelessness 2016-2020 sought to enable 150 homes following the Housing First model, a goal that has not been achieved. We ask for more facilities for homeless people to access public housing, as well as more specific housing promotions for homeless people.
Allow access to the Emergency Board.
The regulations of the Emergency Board of Catalonia establish that all people who are in a situation of extraordinary vulnerability and imminent loss of housing, including people who live on the street, can access social rental housing. However, the Barcelona Social Emergency Board has its own regulations and therefore does not contemplate it. We propose modifying this so as not to leave out people who live in the open. Nor should access to housing be conditioned by lack of financial resources, the person’s health and / or the consumption of narcotics.
Create ‘Organic health teams’ that visit people who live outdoors.
To look after people better and help them regain their link to the health system, we propose creating teams with organic health professionals who visit people directly on the street. In Barcelona, it is already done in the field of mental health. In this sense, we propose generating protocols in public hospitals so that no person is discharged without guaranteeing that they have a place to go.
Open small spaces in each neighbourhood so that hundreds of people stop living on the street.
The objective is to overcome the current model of overcrowded shelters with a waiting list, offer a safe place to spend the night and adapt to the needs of individuals (women and LGTBI people, with pets, with addictions and / or mental health problems, etc). We propose small, night-time accessible spaces, located throughout the territory. From Arrels, we have verified that it’s a cheaper option that works.
Expand and strengthen street services.
The number of people living on the street in Barcelona increases year after year and three quarters of these people are migrants. According to data from the census of homeless people that we carried out in 2019, only 4 out of 10 people living on the street had contact with a social worker and had received social care. We propose expanding the teams that visit people directly on the street to detect invisible cases, so that we can increase accompaniment and connect people with the services they need. These teams could also incorporate linguistic-cultural mediation professionals.
Look beyond the thermometer.
Year after year winter arrives and in Barcelona temporary measures are activated which, when the cold passes, disappear. The homeless, however, do not disappear. We propose to stop focusing efforts on the cold operation and solve the problem of homelessness from a global perspective, activating long-term resources and providing stable housing.
More coordination and training of the police forces.
The local police and the Mossos d’Esquadra should be better trained in the reality of the homeless and have information on all the existing resources in the municipalities to guide people. Common practices such as throwing away belongings or forcing the person to move from one place to another are a violation of rights. Greater coordination with social entities and services is necessary, since it is not a question of a police issue but of social care.
Modify the coexistence ordinance to guarantee the rights of the homeless.
We ask to put the debate on the ordinance of citizen coexistence in the public space of Barcelona back on the table. The ordinance cannot include the situation of the homeless as a problem of coexistence or object of sanctions.
Guarantee hot menus to people who live in the open.
The covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation of people living on the street, according to data from the survey we conducted in November 2020 of 367 people who slept outdoors in Barcelona. Half of the people we surveyed explained that they had difficulties accessing hot meals (52%); The reason is the capacity limitations and the regulations on distribution of take out food that have been in place since the arrival of the pandemic. We propose adapting the soup kitchens with the limited capacity allowed so that people can access hot meals.
Open more daytime spaces to protect people.
47% of the people we interviewed in November 2020 told us that they had difficulty finding places to rest during the day. Since the start of the pandemic, homeless people have spent more hours on the streets and are more exposed to risks. We propose opening small spaces located throughout the city during the day where people can take shelter.