In Brazil, recession and violence housing cuts push families onto the streets
RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The early morning line for food at the Anjinho Feliz community center stretches down the road as the swelling ranks of Brazil’s poor and homeless wait for care packages of rice, cooking oil and biscuits.
The center’s founder, Miriam Gomes, has been working with Brazil’s homeless people for ten years. She has never seen it this bad.
The country’s economic crisis and the high cost of living in big cities are forcing thousands onto the street, she said.
“I’ve seen a 70 percent increase in the number of homeless over the last three years,” said Gomes, as volunteers buzzed around the center distributing food.
“In the past, most homeless were adult males; now there are far more women and kids living on the streets,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
About 14,000 people are living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, a city of about 6.5 million, according to data from the municipal government.
That’s a sharp increase over a decade ago in a trend seen across Brazil’s other big cities, according to government data and community workers.
Homelessness in Brazilian cities is generally defined as people who regularly sleep outside on the streets, rather than just those who lack a permanent address.
The situation of homeless people in Rio is now calamitous.
National housing initiatives such as Brazil’s multi-billion dollar “My House, My Life” building program which provided a lifeline to some homeless families have been cut amid the country’s worst recession since the 1930s.
“The waiting list for Minha Casa, Minha Vida is huge,” said Gomes. “And the homeless shelters are so awful that people would rather stay on the street.”
Weekly families sleep in line at the institution's door to receive food. The number of families has increased and with the economic crisis and violence in the city we can not feed everyone. We need your help.