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Perfil

ARGENTINA | 21-05-2024 16:36

Homeless numbers in Buenos Aires City up 14% over past year

Latest census conducted in late April by City Hall shows more than 4,000 people living rough on the streets of the nation’s capital; Government vows to alter policies, but critics say Buenos Aires needs to invest in affordable housing.

Confirming the intuition of any porteño walking through the streets of the nation’s capital, homelessness is on the rise in Buenos Aires. According to the latest survey by City Hall, the official number of homeless people is now 4,009.

The figure, obtained from a census conducted in late April by specialist teams from the City’s Development Ministry, means the homeless population has grown 14 percent over the past year, when 3,511 people were sleeping on the streets or staying temporarily at one of its overnight shelters.

This quantitative deterioration in homelessness is not the only concern: there has also been a qualitative alteration, say City officials.

“Today the issue of homeless people is much more complex than before,” said Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri at a press conference this week. 

“It has been growing rapidly since 2020, as a result of the economic crisis, but also the pandemic and lockdown. These factors all result in deeper mental health problems and addiction among these groups,” said the PRO politician.

At the press briefing, which Perfil attended, Mayor Macri highlighted the “ranking” of specific neighbourhoods with the greatest concentration of homeless people. According to the census, the most critical area is Communa 1, containing Retiro, Puerto Madero, San Telmo and Constitución. 

Homelessness is also concentrated in Recoleta, then San Cristóbal and Balvanera; followed by La Boca, Parque Patricios and Pompeya and Caballito. 

Homelessness is growing aggressively. According to the mayor, it is a global issue that is increasingly seen in other cities worldwide. “This has led us to now implement some deep changes to the policy to approach the homeless problem,” said Jorge Macri.

Problems are created not only by growing numbers. From City Hall, they specify that “some homeless have been displaying greater violence to local residents.” 

Volunteers from specialist NGOs, such as Buenos Aires Presente, now called ‘Red de Atención,’ are attempting to help the highest possible number of homeless. 

Focusing especially on cases in which children are involved, the organisation’s “social teams” are encouraging those sleeping rough to visit one of the 47 social care centres spread across the City neighbourhoods. These provide overnight lodging, a warm meal, toilets and showers. 

City Hall says these centres are being renovated to offer more specific services adapted to the needs of this population. Today there are special shelters for single men (the largest group of homeless people); for women, for the elderly, and there are an increasing number of those aimed at families (with 180 available spots dedicated to this group). 

Red de Atención (formerly BAP) consists of teams of psychologists and social operators who travel the city, surveying, offering food and inviting homeless people to visit any of the facilities, which function 24 hours a day. 

Besides offering more care to these people with basic needs, City Hall also says it is putting together work tables with representatives from social NGOs and groups from churches and places and workship, which every night offer food, space and care to the homeless.

Lastly, the idea of the current network is to “go out” in search of these people, more consistently and proactively, without having to wait for daily calls for help to the available numbers. 

 

HOMELESS IN BUENOS AIRES

  • As of April, there were 4,009 homeless people in Buenos Aires City.
  • Sixty percent of homeless people suffer from some form of addiction or mental health issues
  • Buenos Aires City has 47 social inclusion centres (shelters) to help the homeless. 
  • Sixty-three percent of homeless people go to or use these spaces.
  • Total available spots at social care centres are around 3,300 beds.
  • Over half of homeless people in the City do not reside in the City.
     

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Enrique Garabetyan

Enrique Garabetyan

Redactor especializado en Ciencia, Salud & Tecnología.

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