The mayor Ada Colau yesterday asked the Generalitat to get involved once and for all in the Attention at homeless. But that he really gets involved and that he does not leave everything in the hands of the City Council of Barcelona, scratch his pocket all the way and mount a emergency care center of a metropolitan character.
Mayor Colau yesterday inaugurated La Llavor, a new municipal reception facility set up to help women who have nowhere to live –the first in the city of this nature–, and took advantage of the third to put on the table a problem that Catalonia has been dragging on from many years ago and whose effects this pandemic is multiplying over and over again. “The city of Barcelona cannot continue to take care of the homelessness policies of all of Catalonia by itself,” said the mayor, very annoyed, a little tired of denouncing a problem that has been craving for a long time and especially in this apocalyptic time encysted. Colau’s complaint is much more than a pre-election tantrum.
Because, as the mayor later emphasized, at the moment Barcelona, thanks to the close work of the City Council and an infinity of social entities, has around 3,000 places of accommodation for the homeless in operation, while the city’s own offer Generalitat in the rest of Catalonia barely adds up to 180 places.
And the result of this imbalance is that the social services of many Catalan municipalities do nothing other than buy a bus ticket to Barcelona for people who ask for their help. “There in the capital they can help you,” they say. It has been happening for decades. Sometimes with a dropper, others in a more exaggerated way … The problem is that this pandemic is pushing into the abyss thousands of people who never imagined explaining their troubles to a municipal worker. Suddenly, in a disproportionate way, and no one can yet predict when this human bleeding will subside. Even
the social effects of the great brick crisis were much more predictable.
“The result of all this is that we estimate that, at least, 25 percent of the people received in recent months by the City Council had their residence outside the city. In addition, half of the homeless people treated in Barcelona in the last two years had been here for less than three months ”, the mayor added to the microphones, typed in a few tweets, sent by letter to the vice president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès. .. “Barcelona is acting as the capital of Catalonia, assuming the lack of territorial strategy and the lack of facilities in the territory, and we do it exclusively with municipal resources”.
So the Colau government demands the Generalitat to help finance the growing costs of facing a pandemic that does not remit at all – “currently the monthly cost of the reception device is one and a half million euros to the municipal treasury” – , and also that it set up a metropolitan emergency care center that can serve all those people that so many municipal social services send to Barcelona by bus. Yesterday this matter was trending topic .
Other passages from the mayoress intended to motivate the regional administration: “in 2020 we have already added 15 million euros to the 35 that we allocate each year to homelessness”, “we value as very insufficient the granting of 925,000 euros by the Generalitat from the extraordinary state fund of 3,300 million ”,“ a third of the people cared for in the new reception facilities did not previously live on the street ”.
Because this pandemic is forcing public administrations to rethink a good part of their social care. It was no coincidence that Colau made public his wake-up call to the Generalitat during the inauguration of La Llavor, of a new municipal reception facility set up to help women who have nowhere to live, the first in the city of these characteristics. Because this pandemic is also raging in a particularly cruel way, and above all hidden, with women.
Because when things get really bad, women tend to drag a much heavier backpack than men’s. It was explained by the Deputy Mayor for Feminisms, Laura Pérez.
“The impact of homelessness on women is always harsher,” continued Deputy Mayor Pérez, also at the inauguration of this new facility located in the Sant Genís dels Agudells neighborhood. There are many more men than women sleeping on the streets, but women live in much more complicated situations. Because women try by all means not to end up on the streets, in a way some are jumping around the houses of acquaintances, they endure much longer in slums, some even endure situations of mistreatment … So we are witnessing the growth of a highly feminized and, above all, hidden homelessness, much more difficult to detect ”.
Thus, continued the Deputy Mayor for Feminisms, women barely represent 13 percent of people who live on the street, but have a higher rate of poverty and risk of social exclusion than men. The stories of María del Pilar Reyes and Sina Ndiaye exemplify how poverty is also changing. Neither one could imagine just a year ago that today they would live in La Llavor.
María del Pilar, 44, Costa Rican, a very entrepreneurial woman, likes to wear a suit jacket, she also lived in Panama, the United States, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Denmark … Here in Barcelona she worked in a cosmetics and it ran a kind of virtual publishing house. And everything was going well. And suddenly the pandemic struck. “And suddenly I saw that I was going to end up on the street, because the stores closed and my publishing house broke down, and I was living in hostels and … I never thought something like this could happen to me! I never lived on the street, I had barely been in Catalonia for a year, working every day, I hardly knew people … And I have barely been here a week, but I can say that this place is a commitment to dignity, here you find women victims of sexist violence, Catalan lawyers who suddenly lost everything, people who have had nowhere to go for a long time … I will really rebuild myself and give back to Catalan society everything that is now giving me ” .
Sina, 52, a Senegalese, now also lives in La Llavor. “I worked in Mallorca, in the markets, but the season barely lasted four months a year, and I paid very little, and I came to Barcelona to study care for dependent people, to be able to work more and contribute all the years necessary to be able to retire , but the pandemic came and my plans were … “. Yes, Sina’s story also dismantles many stereotypes about poverty.
Balls out for Sant Pau
Less forceful was Mayor Colau when asked if the City Council planned to give a hand to the Sant Pau social gym, which will be evicted on January 20. “With Sant Pau we have turned our heads, we collaborate with agreements and subsidies, we are convinced of its social function, we are accompanying it in this process, but the property does not want to reach any agreement”. Colau’s words raised some eyebrows among the cooperative members, who are still awaiting a call from him and remember that the last contact with the City Council on this issue occurred in July. As a result of their protest campaign, the cooperative members will meet in a few days with the mayor of Ciutat Vella, Jordi Rabassa. And meanwhile they continue to add tokens of support. The last, that of the philosopher, and one of the hawkers that Colau liked the most, Marina Garcés.