Gere urges Spain’s Senate to help country’s homeless

Actor Richard Gere (center) addresses homelessness in Spain before Senate in Madrid on Wednesday. Photo: Europa Press
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► Spain has more than 31,000 homeless, 8,000 permanently living on streets ►

Actor Richard Gere urged Spain’s Senate on Wednesday to take action to remedy the homelessness of an estimated 31,000 people around the country, calling on the legislators to show compassion and asking them point blank “What are you going to do?” about an estimated 8,000 people living permanently on the streets in towns and cities across Spain.

Appearing on behalf of the RAIS Fundación, a national non-profit organization working to combat homelessness and extreme social exclusion through poverty in Spain, Gere talked about a “lack of empathy” worldwide for the homeless and about his experience of becoming virtually invisible to passers-by when playing the role of a homeless man on the streets of America in the 2014 film, Time Out of Mind.

Gere told the Senators that every five days somewhere in Spain a homeless person dies on the street. As the 2017-18 winter season sets in, more than 31,000 people in Spain are currently living outdoors, he said, with 8,000 of them living permanently on the streets — nearly half of whom (44 percent) have been living on the streets day-in and day-out for the last three years or more.

The homeless in Spain also have a life expectancy that is 20 years less than the general population in the same age ranges, Gere told the Senate, and 41 percent have serious health problems, with the disability rate among them being five times that of the general population.

In calling on the Spanish legislators to take action to remedy the plight of homeless people here, the American actor also referenced the situation of the homeless in the United States, where he said that combating homelessness has become increasingly “difficult, above all because of the current President, who has shown an alarming lack of empathy”.

► Read More in Spanish at Europa Press, Levante-EMV and La Sexta Noticias …

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