person holding sign homeless please help

More than 10,700 people were homeless in 2022, according to the most recent official survey data which, for the first time, had been carried out in all the municipalities of continental Portugal.

According to the summary of the results of the Survey on the Characterization of People Experiencing Homelessness in 2022, “10,773 were homeless”.

Of these, 5,975 were homeless, i.e. living on the street, in an emergency shelter or in another precarious place, while the remaining 4,798 had no home and were living in temporary accommodation.

In an interview with the Lusa news agency, the coordinator of the National Strategy for the Integration of People Experiencing Homelessness (ENIPSSA) admitted that quantitatively there is an increase compared to 2021, but explained the fact that, for the first time, all municipalities have filled in the questionnaire that allows the number of homeless people to be surveyed.

Asked whether the number of homeless people could be higher, given that many associations supporting homeless people report that the phenomenon is on the rise, Henrique Joaquim refused to comment, arguing that he had no statistics for 2023.

“We’re talking about two different time periods, so it’s one thing to talk about 2022, it’s another thing to talk about the reality in 2023, I can’t give concrete figures,” he said, adding that the current method is to only apply the characterization questionnaire at the end of each year.

The data released this Wednesday states that “compared to the resident population, there were 1.08 homeless people per thousand residents in mainland Portugal”.

“The Alentejo, the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and the Algarve are the regions with the highest proportions, respectively 2.13; 1.60 and 1.51 (people experiencing homelessness per thousand residents),” reads the document.

After requesting information from the Local Social Action Councils (CLAS) or Homelessness Planning and Intervention Centers (NPISA) of the 278 municipalities, from which 278 responses were obtained, “the responses from Estremoz, Faro, Olhão and Portimão were not taken into account because it was found that they did not correspond to the number of homeless people in those territories”, which still corresponds to a validated response rate of 98.6%. It was not possible to obtain data for the municipality of Sesimbra in 2021.

“Considering the numbers reported by the 273 municipalities that participated in the collection of information on December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022, there was an increase of 19% in the number of homeless people in mainland Portugal,” reads the report.

According to the data, there are homeless people in 156 of the municipalities (57%), while in the remaining 118 there were no records.

The phenomenon is dispersed throughout the country, “with a substantial concentration in the metropolitan areas of Lisbon and Porto”.

“It can be seen that these territories concentrate 56% of the total number of people in a homeless situation,” reads the report, which adds that “50% of the municipalities have a maximum of 10 people in this situation and 21% have up to two people in a homeless situation.”

According to ENIPSSA’s coordinator, the profile of homeless people has not changed, remaining generally male, of working age over 45 and “with various associated problems”.

However, 1,099 homeless couples were identified across the country, 781 of whom were without shelter.

“The place of birth of 13% of homeless people is unknown”, while “for the rest, Portuguese citizenship prevails”.

It also states that almost a third of all homeless people have been in this condition for between one and five years and for 61% the Social Insertion Income (RSI) is the most mentioned source of income.

On the other hand, the data shows that last year alone 717 people managed to leave homelessness and find permanent housing, 323 of them in the Lisbon metropolitan area.

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