Homeless population grew by more than 30% in São Paulo in 2 years

A census in São Paulo showed that 31% more homeless people lived in the city in 2021 than in 2019. Three times as many as in 2000.

Homeless man on the street of São Paulo, Brazil
In São Paulo, there have been three times as many people recorded as homeless in 2021 as 20 years ago | São Paulo, 2017 © DAVIDSONLUNA

A census in São Paulo reports on January 23 that there are 31,884 homeless people in Brazil’s most populous city, which accounts for a 31% increase in the last two years.

There have been 7,540 more homeless persons identified since 2019 in the city, the equivalent of the entire homeless population of Rio de Janeiro in 2020.

Twenty years ago, there were only 10,000 homeless people in São Paulo.

The census was supposed to be performed in 2023 but the city has been worried about the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to carry it out earlier.

The census is based on a survey of homeless people met in public places or shelters. But for Father Julio Lancellotti, who has been helping homeless people for years, the census largely underestimates the reality as not everyone lives on the streets or in shelters.

The number of tents and improvised housing identified by the census grew by 330% in 2021 compared to 2019.

In the state of São Paulo, 70% of cities have a smaller population than the number of people who live on the streets of São Paulo.

Three times as much improvised housing on the streets as in 2019

Most of the homeless are men who are 41.7 years old on average.

But the census tends to show more families have been living on the streets as 29% of people said they lived with someone they consider to be a family member against 20% in 2019.

Almost all of the homeless people are born in Brazil, 59% come from the state of São Paulo, 39% from the city itself and 41% from another state of Brazil. The main reason people moved to the state was to look for a job.

But family conflicts for 35% of cases, alcoholism and drug addictions (30%) or loss of income (28%) led the people to lose their home, they explained.

For 46% of them, having a steady job is what would get them off the streets, which 92% wish for.

In Brazil, 11% of homes are vacant.

Read more about Brazil

City of São Paulo, January 2022, Free access

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