Homeless population grew 31% in the last two years in São Paulo

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The city hall of São Paulo released, on Sunday night (23), alarming data on the growth of the homeless population in the capital: in two years the increase was 31%. Currently, there are 31,884 people living on the city’s streets, in 2019 it was 24,344 people.

The increase of 7,540 people is equivalent to the entire homeless population in Rio de Janeiro in 2020, according to the São Paulo City Hall.

“Another comparison that gives the dimension of the new reality in São Paulo indicates that the contingent living on the streets is already greater than the number of inhabitants of most cities in the state. To give you an idea, of the 645 cities in São Paulo, 449, or 69.6% of the total, have a smaller number of residents than the homeless population measured in the city of São Paulo”, highlighted the city hall.

The first Homeless Population Census carried out in the city after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic showed the socioeconomic consequences that came with the health crisis. The census, which should be carried out in 2023 as provided for by law, was brought forward due to the worsening of the crisis and, according to the city hall, due to the need to offer quick solutions to support this population.

“While in 2019 there were 24,344 homeless people in the city, at the end of 2021, there were 31,884 people identified in the Census. Of this total, 19,209 were registered when they were in public places and another 12,675 while they were sheltered in the Shelter Centers of the municipality’s social assistance network”, informed the city hall.

Regions with the highest concentration of homeless people

Regarding the 2019 survey, Census data reveal that the districts in the administrative region of the Subprefecture of Mooca registered the greatest increase in the concentration of homeless people. In 2019, there were 1,419 people in the region and now there are 2,254: a growth of 170% in just two years.

In the region administered by the Subprefecture of See, the increase in absolute numbers was 973 people.

“The reasons why the homeless population is mostly concentrated in the neighborhoods around the central area remain unchanged, that is, they are related to factors such as mobility, work and ease of eating”, shows the research.

The study indicates quite significant growth in the homeless population also in regions such as Perus, Vila Maria-Vila Guilherme and Santana-Tucuruvi, in the North Zone; Penha, Itaquera, Ermelino Matarazzo, São Miguel Paulista, Sapopemba, Guaianases and Itaim Paulista, in the East Zone; and Ipiranga, Vila Mariana, Jabaquara and M’Boi Mirim, in the Southeast and South zones.

Families living in tents

Classified as “improvised housing”, street stalls grew by 330% in 2021 compared to 2019 data.

“While in the previous census there were 2,051 points covered with improvised tents, in 2021 6,778 points were computed”, said the city hall.

Another important piece of data is that the percentage of homeless women grew from 14.8% of the total population in 2019 to 16.6% in 2021. Likewise, the trans/transvestite/agender/non-binary/ others have also increased: it represented 2.7% in 2019, and now accounts for 3.1% of the population on the city’s streets.

The majority profile remains male, of working age, with an average age of 41.7 years in 2021. Of the total number of homeless people in the capital of São Paulo, 70.8% are black or brown, according to official data from the 2021 Census.

Profile of homeless people

In total, 96.44% of homeless people in the city of São Paulo are born in Brazil and only 3.56% are foreigners. Of these, a total of 39.2% of the people are from São Paulo, 19.86% are from other cities in the state of São Paulo and 40.94% are from other states in Brazil.

People from other states come mainly from Bahia, 8.47%, Minas Gerais, 5.44% and Pernambuco, 5.28%.

“The main reason that brought 52% of non-native people from São Paulo to the city was the search for work/employment. Data on education show that 93.5% of homeless people in the city attended school, 92.9% can read and write, 4.2% have completed higher education, 21.4% have completed high school and 15 .3% completed elementary school”, the survey shows.

The main reasons mentioned by the interviewees for being homeless were family conflicts (34.7%), dependence on alcohol and other drugs (29.5%) and loss of work/income (28.4%).


The new census, contracted by the City Hall through the Municipal Secretariat of Assistance and Social Development (SMADS) with the company Qualitest Ciência e Tecnologia Ltda, specialized in surveys of this kind, was carried out based on scientific criteria and methodology. The data collected reveal both the numerical increase in people living on the streets and the detailed socioeconomic profile of this population.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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