5 Facts About Homelessness in Uruguay

Homelessness in UruguayUruguay is located on the eastern coast of South America and is known for being one of the most democratic and financially prosperous countries in the region. While Uruguay has made great economic progress since the early 2000s — which has significantly reduced poverty — the country continues to struggle with homelessness. With this in mind, many NGOs and institutions are working to combat this issue. This article will present five facts about homelessness in Uruguay’s capital city and how this issue is being combated.

5 Facts About Homelessness in Uruguay

  1. Homelessness is concentrated in urban areas. Homelessness in Uruguay is concentrated within the country’s larger cities, notably in Montevideo, which is the capital and largest city.

  2. The homeless population in Montevideo is increasing. According to a 2020 survey by the Ministry of Social Development, 2,553 people in Montevideo experienced homelessness. The data found that an estimated 885 people were living outdoors, while 1,668 were in shelters. Compared to data from 2019, there was a 25% increase in unsheltered individuals.

  3. The Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) is working to combat homelessness. Known in Spanish as Ministerio de Desarrollo Social de Uruguay, MIDES has been paying attention to the issue of homelessness in Uruguay. One way they addressed the issue was by creating the Homelessness Attention Programme. This program focuses on improving homeless shelters and connecting people living outdoors with the shelter system. There are roughly 36 designated homeless centers for adults in Montevideo. These centers often offer dinner, breakfast and an area for washing clothes.

  4.  Montevideo’s local government is turning abandoned houses into shelters. Along with various institutions operating throughout the nation, Montevideo’s local government has also taken steps to combat homelessness. In 2019, the government implemented a plan to restore and convert abandoned houses into social care centers. These centers focus on women who are victims of domestic violence along with individuals who suffer from substance abuse issues. Since domestic violence and drug abuse are among the top causes of homelessness, these centers have contributed greatly to addressing homelessness’s roots.

  5. The citizens of Montevideo are also working to combat homelessness. Every night in Montevideo — particularly during the colder season — an estimated 16 groups from various universities and churches take to the streets and pass out meals to the people living outdoors. Roughly 500 people participate every night to hand out more than 1,900 meals. Volunteers use donated goods from churches and businesses to cook the food that is subsequently distributed.

Homelessness in Uruguay is an issue that continues to affect the most vulnerable groups. Nonetheless, governments and citizens alike have taken important steps in identifying and tackling the issue.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr