Between 2016 and 2019 we have been going out onto the streets of Barcelona in order to interview those living there – to find out more about their health situation, whether they have been assaulted, what kind of social care they are receiving and their vulnerability level, among others. As a result, we are publishing the report Living on the streets in Barcelona: analysis of a homeless city, a study that has led to a series of proposals to make #nobodysleepingonthestreet possible in the short, mid and long term. We explain them here!
Read the data and more details of the report here.
Short-term Transformative Measures
Open small facilities in every neighbourhood so that hundreds of people are able to get off the streets.
In order to overcome the current pattern of overcrowded night shelters with waiting lists, to offer a safe place adapted to all needs (women, people of the LGBTI community, people with pets, and those with addictions and/or mental health problems etc.) where people can spend the night. At Arrels, we have found this to be a cheaper option
Increase and strengthen street teams.
The number of people sleeping on the streets in Barcelona keeps increasing year after year, and three quarters of them are migrants. We need to detect invisible cases and increase outreach in order to connect people with the services they need. We need to incorporate professionals in language and cultural mediation into the team.
More coordination and training for police services.
Both the Guardia Urbana and Mossos d’Esquadra police teams should be educated about homeless people’s situation and they should have information available about the existing resources to help people. Common practices such as throwing away people’s things and forcing them to move away are a rights violation. Coordination is needed between organisations and social services.
Provide support services to homeless people in the area where they live.
We need to take care of all homeless people on a local level. Moving people from their local area to bigger cities is not a solution because it causes them to disconnect from their environment and saturates support services in certain places. The regional government – Generalitat de Catalunya – should support, educate and give resources to all local areas.
Mid and Long-Term Transformative Measures
Prevention-based approach so no one loses their home.
There are 1239 people living on the streets of Barcelona, and many others live in sublet rooms or B&Bs where they experience evictions without notice. Thestate of alarm has made it clear: a B&B is not a home and, when closed down, many people ended up on the streets and were forced to use emergency accommodation places.
The right to housing as the starting point, looking beyond social services.
Making it easier for homeless people to access public accommodation, offering adapted promotions and public-private cooperation in order to increase the amount of accommodation that follows the Housing First model. Access to housing should be universal: no one should leave prison, be discharged from hospital or leave the youth care system and end up living on the streets.
Simplify the processes to obtain basic documentation.
To help people rapidly secure their rights: using a healthcare card to get a medical check-up, finding a job, asking for social support etc. Furthermore, ensuring all Catalan municipalities are obligated to register its residents.
Create medical health outreach teams to visit homeless people on the streets.
In order to offer support to everyone and improve their relationship with the public healthcare system. We also suggest that public hospitals should create protocols that won’t allow them to discharge people without a proper housing alternative.
Emergency resources should be permanent.
During the state of alarm, different areas of Catalonia were able to open emergency accommodation places for people experiencing homelessness. We can use this to prevent cases where people return to the streets. All services should be prepared to support isolation, but they also should be set up as servicesto prevent people returning to the street.
Isolation facilities should be small and designed to cover specific needs.
Most of the emergency resources opened during the state of alarm are overcrowded places with strict conditions of entry that leave out several rough sleepers. We need smaller places with direct access and risk reduction measures that care for people’s mental health.
Basic services and street teams are the only reference point for the people who are still on the street.
Experience has shown us that all facilities that offer a warm meal, shelter and showers should remain open in the event of a future outbreak. They are vital for rough sleepers. Accordingly, street teams should be strengthened in order to give social and medical support, to proactively detect covid-19 cases and to give out useful information.
Information is the key to prevent new homelessness cases.
During the state of alarm, Arrels received more than 300 inquiries from worried citizens who were losing their homes. Everyone should know where to ask for help if they are going through a precarious situation and on the verge of ending up on the street.
What Will Arrels Do?
We will continue to gain understanding ofthe reality of homelessness in Barcelona.
In order to detect the needs of people experiencing homelessness, record them and influence in social and political realms.
We will open new accommodation places.
Refurbishing new apartments and creating low-threshold facilities, with the goal of offering a safe place to live for people who are living on the street or in insecure places.
Advice and information services will be increased for the general public.
So that they can actively support people sleeping on the streets. We will also continue to provide guidance directly to people affected by homelessness.
The street team will be strengthened.
In order to get to know and help people living on the streets and to offer a greater level of support to the people we already visit. We will also give legal guidance on the street.
- Read the report Living on the streets in Barcelona: analysis of a homeless city.
- You can also read the interviews with Úrsula Alonso, Davide Andreoli and Juan Verdón, about their experience living on the streets; doctor Daniel Roca; Marta Maynou, Arrels outreach team manager; and Gemma Gassó and Bob Walker, case workers of the Arrels’ outreach team.