The bigger picture
DURING the COVID isolation period in Spain it was very, very rare to see homeless people on the street any longer. You would get to see the same old faces in doorways or outside supermarkets but they disappeared.
When I eventually did see one, I was walking home from work as I am classed as an essential worker, there were two known homeless men and the police passed by without giving them a second glance.
These men were local, they had no safety masks and am pretty sure they weren’t using hand sanitizer.
What it made me think is that if there was the possibility of ridding the streets of homeless people and beggars now, during a health crisis, surely that means that the space is constantly available to shelter and provide for them.
Local sports stadiums were said to be at capacity from sheltering them and various ordinary homeless shelters. Now, most of these people survive on handouts from the public and during the pandemic, there was also no public in the streets, no holidaymakers. How did they manage? I did fear that they would be an easy target for the virus and also that it sadly may kill a huge number of them off.
However, I am happy to say that since the virus has begun to disappear, those faces have reappeared. A friend, I suppose you could call him, Jose Luis, survived through the virus, sleeping in the streets with nobody to collect coppers from, he had not been able to get a space in the local stadium.
In talking to him recently it did bring up the point that if the government can provide them with basic food and the means to stay alive and shelter during a crisis why can they not do this any other time when these people are suffering, ill and dying?
Is it something that will change because of this realisation? Let’s hope so.