The night of June 12, during the census of homeless people, we located almost 1,200 people sleeping on the street in Barcelona and 347 wanted to speak to us. We now have the preliminary results and after four annual censuses, we’ve started to see trends. Health problems, the feeling of insecurity and the possibility of meeting basic needs are worsened, while the number of people in situations of high or medium vulnerability is reduced.
More time living on the street
The average amount of time spent on the street rose to 3 years and 11 months among people interviewed during the census, seven months more than the average in 2018. Also notable is the increase in people who have been victims of physical and/or verbal abuse in the last six months: from 30% in 2018 to 38% in 2019 (43% among women).
63% of homeless people suffer a situation of elevated or moderate vulnerability, a number that decreased for the fourth consecutive year (down from 80% in 2016). And 41% said they had been assisted by a social worker in the last six months, a slight increase from 2017 (in 2018 it was 35% and in 2017 it was 45.5%).
This year’s census of people who live on the street was achieved with 549 volunteers who searched 61 districts of Barcelona. The number of people located has increased 27% in four years, from 941 people in 2016 in the count conducted by the Homeless Network to nearly 1,200 people this year.
What level of vulnerability do they face?
The 347 homeless people who participated in this year’s census answered questions about their health, how long they’ve lived on the street, their age, if they have suffered abuse or not, etc. The combination of these answers allows us to learn the level of vulnerability the person faces.
- 11% face a situation of high vulnerability, which means that they need priority social intervention. If we include people in a situation of moderate vulnerability, this figure increases to 63%.
- 83% are men, 11% are women and 6% identify otherwise.
- The average age is 42.3 years; more than half (57%) are between 25 and 49 years old and the range of people between 50 and 64 years old increased to 28%.
- The 347 people interviewed came from 49 different countries. The most common countries of origin are Spain (25%), Romania (16.1%), Morocco (12.1%), Italy (4.6%) and Poland (3.7%).
What is their situation?
- The people we interviewed spent 3 years and 11 months living on the street, on average. 59.4% had spent a year or more sleeping in the street.
- 44% had difficulty accessing housing because they were not registered.
- 73% of people interviewed had neither income, nor social benefits, nor inheritance, nor do they work illegally. That’s 7% fewer than in 2018.
- In the case of 18% of people interviewed, consumption of alcohol or drugs has made it difficult to remain in housing or has been the reason that the person has had to leave their housing. 11% of people with physical health problems are in the same situation.
Do they have social support?
- 44% of people interviewed said they have not been assisted by a social worker or similar person in the last six months.
- The percentage of people interviewed who said they have used emergency social services in the last six months increased to 21%.
Can they go to the doctor?
- 46% of people said they have physical health problems.
- Almost three out of every ten people interviewed said they suffer from a chronic illness.
- More than half of the people surveyed (53%) said they have a health card. 39% said they do not have a health card and the rest did not know or did not answer.
- The results of the census show a concerning statistic: the use of emergency health services has increased compared to last year. Many people said they had received emergency medical care (35.4%), more people have stayed in the hospital (21.9%) and more have needed an ambulance (17.8%).
Do they feel safe?
- 38% of people interviewed said they have been a victim of physical and/or verbal abuse; this is 8% more than last year. For women, the number rises to 43%.
- 17.58% of the people interviewed said that they had pending legal cases and 19% said that they had been detained at some point in a police station.
- 6% of the people interviewed said they have been forced, cheated or pressured to do something against their will, a figure slightly higher than in previous years.