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Documented by KMO COLLECTIVE

Photo by Oliver Ojeda


Last October 2023, 65 homeless people had already died so far this year, and only on the streets of the city of Barcelona. In Spain, according to the official state bulletin (BOE), there are 28,552 people REGISTERED as homeless, and more than 40% of these have been living on the streets for more than 3 years, and homelessness has increased by 24.5% in the last 10 years. We are therefore faced with an emergency situation and a form of extreme social exclusion that violates people's fundamental rights.

Photo byr Oliver Ojeda

Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution states that: "all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing. The public authorities shall promote the necessary conditions and establish the relevant rules to make this right effective, regulating the use of land in accordance with the general interest in order to prevent speculation" But the reality is quite different: in Spain there is a limited supply of public housing (both for purchase and rental), which makes it difficult for people at risk of homelessness to access affordable, quality housing and to develop an independent life outside the system. Housing is the door to effective access to other fundamental rights such as health, self-determination, security, etc.

In 2020, the Minimum Living Wage was approved as the first major attempt to address this problem. This legislative project had already been in the pipeline for quite some time, but with the pandemic the process was accelerated to avoid letting vulnerable individuals and families fall below the poverty line. This measure was an enormous palliative for this sector, but due to its rapid implementation we see some obstacles that, apart from the context of the pandemic, continue to be an obstacle for the people who really need this help.  One of the conditions for access to this aid is to have resided in Spain, with a regulated census registration, for the whole of the year prior to the year in which this payment is applied for. By the time it was approved, the vast majority of people had already been living on the streets for more than a year, so it is a resource with a delayed effect. This is compounded by the difficulty in processing and the lack of awareness of the very existence of this retribution due to the scarce investment in social causes. The result of all this is that today only 5% of homeless people have access to the Minimum Living Income, so we are talking about more than 27,000 registered people living in absolute poverty, who is receiving this money?

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On this basis, it seems that the Spanish Government, through the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, adopted last year a National Framework Agreement to provide a solution to this phenomenon that will be promoted by the future National Strategy 2023-2030, maintaining its focus on eradicating street homelessness: "No one who does not want to sleep on the streets in 2030". 

However, if you take a look at the action measures with which they intend to embark on this social transformation, and given the longevity of the problem, we are probably faced with another utopian proposal governed by hypocrisy that will not lead to any plausible change; we will see in a few years...

(Photo by Ángel Armero) Jordi, a boy from Lleida who has been on the street for two years, approached our colleague Ángel and asked for something to eat, this was his first meal after a day without food.

On the other hand, for all those who raise discriminatory thoughts towards certain demographic groups, we believe it is interesting to point out that, according to ArrelsFoundation, established in Barcelona, people born in Spain and EU countries spend the most time living on the street, with an average of 5 years and 8 months; a figure that can be perfectly extrapolated to the whole Spanish territory; we are facing a problem for/with everyone.

To make matters worse, and according to the HATENTO Observatory on Hate Crimes against the Homeless, 47% of homeless people have suffered hate crimes. Meanwhile, according to the INE survey of homeless people in 2022, 50.3% of homeless people have been victims of a crime or aggression, with the most frequent crimes being insults, threats and robbery.

This document is a wake-up call to society, to all those who look away when a homeless person speaks to them in the street; a call to eliminate the stigmas of alcoholism and drug addiction with which homelessness coexists, perhaps they are not a cause, but a consequence; to bring us closer to each other, and to move away from perceiving the environment with the gentrified eyes of a class that has been imposed on us by mere chance.

From KM0 we propose that you experience just 24 hours, just one day, living and sleeping outdoors in the streets of your city and get to know first-hand the situation to which many people are exposed for years. Loneliness; helplessness; fear at night, with eyes permanently half-open; and difficulty in meeting basic physiological needs are the first symptoms you will experience; the minutes turn into endless hours, which most of the time can only be eased with the ingestion of stimulants. To paraphrase a good friend and even better photographer: "If you have had access to an education and relative economic stability; you have an obligation to reach out to people who have not had the same luck" Sasha Asensio.


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