More care and more specialist support for the homeless

14/05/2018 - 21:29

Homelessness. More municipal resources to provide the homeless with economic, emotional and housing stability as a means of attaining maximum self-sufficiency.

Around a thousand people sleep rough on the streets of Barcelona every night. The lack of access to housing, along with labour precariousness, means shelters must be built, centres adapted and support improved. The goal is for the homeless to achieve the economic, emotional and housing stability which allows them maximum self-sufficiency.

The head count conducted by the XAPSLL in May 2017 registered 1,026 people sleeping rough, with a further 2,006 spending the night in residential shelters and flats run by private and public programmes. Including the 417 people spending the night at unofficial settlements on different sites around the city, the total figure for those suffering residential exclusion in the city came out at 3,383.

The lack of access to housing, coupled with labour precariousness, means the number of people attended to by XAPSLL services rose from 5% in 2012 to 15% in 2017. Having a wage doesn’t guarantee access to a room or tenancy, let alone a home. The result is that people stay longer at shelters.

New municipal facilities

Barcelona has three primary shelters which directly handle the homeless. Based on contributions from users, professionals and volunteers, front line facilities have been improved (hygiene, soup kitchens and day centres) and renovations are planned for primary shelters as from October 2018. The three centres, initially intended as night shelters, will be operating 24 hours a day and will offer spacious outside spaces for physical activity, with a capacity for a hundred people.

The Sant Pere Més Baix centre started operating in November 2016 and offers homes with social support, with 12 shared flats offering a total of 48 places. In order to provide suitable support for people with mental health problems attended to by the centres, the Area of Social Rights and the Fundació Sant Pere Claver opened the Cal Muns residence in March 2017. In January this year, the Maria Freixa centre also opened. Managed by the Fundació APIP-ACAM, the centre offers 22 places for young homeless people.

Twenty inclusive accommodation places are to be opened up for single people and couples in C/ Tànger in October 2018. Centres are also to be opened in 2019 in C/ Alí Bei, with fifteen places with services for families, and in C/ Mestres Casals i Martorell, with fourteen places and services for single people and couples.

At the same time, renovation work is planned over the next few months for the primary shelters (Císter, Zona Franca and Nou Barris), involving a slight increase of twenty places and making more space available to improve privacy for residents and social support.

According to proposals from users and the homelessness group run by the Municipal Social Welfare Council, the methodology for applications for places at primary shelters in the Zona Franca, Sarrià and Nou Barris has been changed. This has eliminated the queues at the door and replaced them with personal interviews with applicants during the day. People interviewed go onto a list and are located and contacted when a places becomes available for them.

In the same vein, it has been agreed with the housing department that when awarding socially protected flats to vulnerable collectives, homelessness will be introduced as a scoring criterion where applications are accompanied by a social report confirming the person or family is ready to access housing.

Improvements to mobility

The homeless are entitled to a discounted public transport ticket: a T50/30 card at the same price as a T10. The card can be obtained by presenting a social report to Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB).  In February this year, 325 cards had been given to facilities and a further 828 via support teams and the Social Insertion Service (SIS).