Weak family ties drive spike in Italy homeless

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Homelessness is a growing problem in Italy. File photo: O.Cartu/Flickr
12:54 CET+01:00
There are now at least 50,700 people sleeping rough in parks and streets across Italy and the situation is getting worse, a worrying new report shows.

According to the report released by national statistics agency, Istat, on Thursday the number of people living on the country's streets is up over 4,000 from the 47,648 figure recorded in 2011.

The report was compiled with the help of homeless charities and used data collected from soup kitchens across 158 communes Italy-wide.

“The economic crisis of the last few years has clearly had a strong effect,” Magda Baetta, from Ronda Carità e Solidarietà, a group that helps the homeless in Milan, told The Local.

“But there is also much less solidarity in 2015. People are more self-interested and nobody can rely on typical family relationships anymore.

"Perhaps the biggest factor pushing up numbers is that people have weaker relationships and fall into homelessness more easily.”

But who is homeless in Italy?

According to Istat, 85.7 percent of Italy's homeless are men while 58.2 percent of all homeless people are foreign and just over three in four, or 75.8 percent, are younger than 54.

More than two-thirds of Italy's homeless were surviving alone, while 6 percent were sleeping rough with children.

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But it's not just numbers that the number of homeless people is increasing: more and more people are also failing to escape from homelessness.

Figures from 2011 showed that 27 percent of Italy's homeless population had been sleeping rough for more than two years. The latest data, however, shows this number has ballooned to 41.1 percent.

“We've been operating 18 years and the problem is getting steadily worse. The government needs to provide more resources to tackle the problem but they always claim not to have the money,” Baetta said.

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