After five months of work without registration in the professional card at a metallurgical company in Guarulhos, in Greater São Paulo, Diego Souza received the news he most feared at the beginning of the pandemic: the company was going to fire him. Soon after, another bad news: for delaying the rent of R $ 500 by one month, the owner asked for the keys to the room where she lived. Without a job and without a roof, the 33-year-old lathe worker thought in April that he would have more chances in the capital. Nothing has improved. He lived for six days in Praça da República, in the center, sleeping under the marquee of Cine Marabá. He’s still out of work, but he got a place to sleep in Temporary Reception Center Alcântara Machado, on the east side.
Same as pandemic center in the country, São Paulo also seemed the best job option for the 45 year old miner Rogério Anselmo. Having already worked as a watchman and production assistant, he arrived in São Paulo last Tuesday, with nowhere to stay. After problems with his family, he already lived on the streets of Belo Horizonte. “There was no job there before. I just did beaks. With the pandemic, everything got worse. I just need a chance to try to get back on my feet, ”says the father of four – all live with their mothers.
The crisis caused by the pandemic has pushed unemployed and migrants onto the streets. An indicator of this growth is in the City Hall welcoming places. In April, there were 594. In early July, they jumped to 1,072, with 672 in eight emergency equipment and another 400 in four Unified Educational Centers (CEUs). Porter Paulo Ricardo Araújo, 32, from Rio do Ilha do Governador, got a spot in the Mooca Temporary Reception Center (CTA). Unemployed for a month, after leaving a logistics company, he is entitled to four meals a day, a bath and a place to sleep. Single, with a daughter in Ceará, Ricardo spends the day looking for a job. “The term for staying in the shelter is the end of the pandemic,” he says.
Antonio, who reveals only his first name, has not yet found space in these shelters. General services assistant, he has been sleeping under the Bresser Viaduct, in Belém, since the beginning of June. Awaits the arrival of a cousin from Itabaiana (BA) who will bring clothes and money. Prefer not to be photographed. “It is a shameful situation. I don’t have the money to buy soap, ”says the 35-year-old from Bahia.
Domestic worker Alessandra Rodrigues also ran out of options. He was unable to find a place in the reception centers of the city and it was impossible to sleep on the street with Luana, his two-year-old daughter. Thus, she resorted to an irregular occupation known as Castelo, on Avenida Alcântara Machado, Radial Leste. The (lack of) option indicates another outlet for families without income during the pandemic: abandoned properties. “I didn’t get any cleaning fees because the families are penniless and afraid of the covid. I couldn’t stay on the street with my daughter, right? ”Says the 42-year-old from São Paulo.
At the same address as Alessandra, 20 families live (there were 15 before the pandemic). The maid says that the donations, which were few, practically disappeared. Other residents who prefer not to identify themselves claim that there are at least seven more occupations in the Belém region and most donations end up stopping these addresses. The items most needed by the families who live there are basic clothes and baskets. Alessandra lives in a room that serves as a living room, bedroom and kitchen and has no expenses such as water and electricity. He got the job there because the leaders of the occupation were touched by his history. The mother and daughter’s breakfast is made at the São Miguel Arcanjo Church, in Mooca. What about other meals? The question remains unanswered as Alessandra shrugs. “In this pandemic, we depend on people’s help, but not everyone is able to help.”
Personal dramas like this became routine in São Paulo. After the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of people without a home, or with a home, but without food, exploded in the city. And this situation, visible in the streets, is still absent in official statistics, as pointed out by several philanthropic institutions heard by the Estadão. “There are more people looking for breakfast”, Says the priest Julio Lancelotti, of the São Miguel Arcanjo Parish and of the Street Pastoral of the Archdiocese of São Paulo. Before the pandemic, about 150 people showed up every morning at the cafe offered by the parish, which is in Mooca. “Today we have 400 to 500 people.”Unemployment, defaults, situations of material and emotional tightening have taken more people to the streets, says the vicar. In the central area, Friar Angélico do Coração de Jesus, from the religious congregation Fraternidade O Caminho, says that there are residents who came from the Northeast and even from outside the country. They lost their jobs and, without a safety net, ended up in hostels and in the streets.
“We noticed an increase because of the pandemic”, says Fr. Angélico. Before, 40 to 50 people appeared daily at the first meal offered. “Today there are 200, at least, for breakfast.” To make matters worse, some institutions have stopped offering aid because of the risk of agglomerations.
Installed in Largo de São Francisco, central area of the city, the Franciscan Tent was opened exactly because of the increase in the demand of these needy for meals. Brother João Paulo Gabriel, the project’s coordinator, says that at the beginning of the pandemic there was a “considerable” increase in the demand for food. “People are coming here because they lost their home. Others because they have no home or food. ” A preliminary survey by the Franciscan Solidarity Service reveals that 21% of these people have a home, but seek food. Another 74% are homeless and 5% live in occupations.
According to the City Hall, according to the 2019 Homeless Population Census there were 24,344 people in that condition in the capital. Father Júlio Lancelotti even considered that these results were underestimated. In their accounts, at the time, there were about 30 thousand people. “Everything became more difficult for them,” he recalls.