More resources to tackle homelessness among women

20/01/2020 - 18:37

Social services. More shelter places for women will be opened up and facilities renovated to improve safety and privacy.

The gender perspective is being taken on board in policies to combat homelessness, with a new government measure detailing specific conditions relating to homeless women. The document sets out twenty proposals, including the adaptation of facilities and the creation of more places in shelter for women.

The latest report on homelessness in Barcelona, corresponding to 2018, counted 329 women sleeping rough in the city, some 13% of the overall total. While the percentage of homeless women is slightly lower than for men, figures show that woman are faced with more situations of microhousing, abuse and violence before becoming homeless. This can trigger emotional and physical conditions which are more serious than those for men. This unequal situation coincides with studies on homelessness among women around the world, which also reflect a specific problem of women living rough and which in terms of statistics remains invisible.

Given the situation, the gender perspective is being applied in municipal policies on homelessness, with specific measures designed to tackle and prevent homelessness among women. The new government measure sets out twenty actions, with an increase of 600,000 euros in the annual budget  for tackling homelessness, which stands at 35 million euros.

Accommodation exclusion

Stabilising accommodation options for homeless women is a priority for social services and will mean 80 new shelter places where women get preference. The new places will come from:

  • Broadening of the municipal programme ‘Home First’, which has 68 flats.
  • New temporary accommodation with social support for women and women single-parent families, such as the facility in Carrer de Tànger and the APROP temporary housing units.
  • Ten new places with economic support from the City Council, to be included at the future Llar Rosario Endrinal, currently being built by the Centre Assís.

The places come in addition to the 2,170 existing municipal accommodation places, 300 of which have been added in the last four years.

Revamp to facilities with the gender perspective

The male perspective has traditionally shaped the design of shelters for the homeless, a bias which leaves women in this situation exposed to greater vulnerability. To reduce insecurity and redress the lack of privacy and intimacy, a sum of 1.2 million euros will be invested to revamp facilities using criteria which takes women users’ specific needs into account.

Four strategy areas:

These are two of twenty actions set out in the measure, which is divided into four strategic areas:

  • Better analysis of homelessness among women, in terms of the collection of information and the assessment of the functioning of social services attending to homeless women.
  • Approach to tacking the structural causes of homelessness, through collaboration with the Government of Catalonia, backing for the Comprehensive Strategy to Tackle Homelessness in Catalonia, and with the state, to back policies on work, migration, equality in accommodation and social protection.
  • Better support for women on the Municipal Support Programme for the Homeless, based on accounts from users. The goal is to establish preventative detection mechanisms and strengthen municipal information channels, as well as promoting cooperation between bodies answering to the Catalan government and other municipalities.
  • Prioritisation of stable accommodation for homeless women, through the  inclusion of the gender perspective in the renovation of municipal facilities, the strengthening of care services in cases of male violence, the creation of women’s groups at all centres and priority access for women to the ‘Home First’ programme.

Which municipal services can homeless people turn to?

The City Council runs a series of services to help people who end up homeless as a result of severe poverty and social exclusion. The goal is to prevent such situations, help people with no roof over their heads, cover basic living needs and define inclusion itineraries enabling people to recover their personal autonomy and the social ties of those most vulnerable.

What is the support service for people with no roof over their heads?

This service is aimed at people sleeping rough and is intended to improve their life conditions. It uses teams for initial shelter and social treatment.

What is the temporary accommodation service for homeless people?

This is a municipal service providing accommodation, food, hygiene, social support and healthcare at residential centres offering comprehensive support for homeless people in the initial stages, or in long-running or consolidated situations of social exclusion.

See all the municipal services for the homeless.