Cold temps put Spain’s homeless at greater risk

Madrid social workers help homeless to find adequate shelter during cold months. Photo: Ayto de Madrid / Europa Press
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• NGOs say some 40,000 people living on streets across Spain exposed to cold
• Energy poverty, social exclusion from affordable housing at root of problem

Non-governmental organisations working with the homeless throughout Spain say the current cold wave across the country is placing some 40,000 homeless people at risk and the Spanish Red Cross has placed its emergency units in 34 provinces on high alert to help cope with the situation.

The sharp drop in temperatures mean that those living on the street in Spain are at risk of having their already precarious situation exacerbated by exposure to the elements and agencies from the Red Cross to the Spanish Catholic church’s Caritas agency and dozens of other organizations across the country are organizing to provide coffee, food, clothing, health care and counseling to those stranded on the streets.

According to the Red Cross, the number of people in Spain exclused from affordable housing or who have lost their homes since the economic crisis began in 2008 has grown dramatically. A spokesman for Caritas told the Europa Press news agency that the root of the problem for many of the homeless is not the cold, but rather the ongoing social exclusion from affordable housing and the problem of energy poverty, with many families and individuals facing cutoffs of heating and elecricity in the cold winter months because they cannot afford to pay their utility bills.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press …

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