Homelessness in Spain

By: Cheyenne Wilson

Homelessness is a problem that I seen everywhere I’ve been, but here in Spain it is very different. Normally people just sit on the street and maybe hold up a sign, you’ll see a few people out on street corners or napping somewhere. Here, you see homeless people just about everywhere you look. Unemployment, at its best stays around 10%. During the financial crisis of 2008 that number shot up to 26%. To put that in perspective, when the US had its worst unemployment rates it never topped 10%. Currently Spain has around a 19% unemployment rate, and as an outsider looking in you can see the toll it is taking on the country. Homeless people are very different about asking for money. In a single night of sitting out on patios, it is almost guaranteed at least one person will come up to the table asking for money, usually 2-3. They are very upfront and have no shame going around table to table. This also happens on the tram, we can just be sitting on the tram when we are approached by someone. And, oddly enough, whenever we say we don’t speak Spanish, they can immediately begin speaking in English to us. This was something that I wasn’t expecting to see and we weren’t warned about how upfront people are. This has been something we’ve each learned to handle in different ways, but I also think it has made us notice people a little more, rather than just passing by.

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