Obstacle Race to Collect Minimum Essential Income | economy

Maman Roman lived on the street for eight months, able to survive thanks to the minimum living income. Today he collaborates with a society that fed him during that period.

Memon Roman has a vivid memory of the first night he ended up sleeping on the streets of Cádiz. A New Look of Contempt. Anxiety and fear. “I went to the beach of La Caleda. A light shone on my tent and I was very scared. It turned out to be a lighthouse,” he recalled with a sad smile. It was January 11, 2021, and he will never forget it: “It changed me forever.” The same On September 24 of the year, another date that he was able to get rid of that dream did not disappear from his mind, thanks to the collection of the first payment of the last safety net, the Minimum Vital Income (IMV) created in 2020 to reach the most vulnerable strata of society. Roman knows that his situation is exceptional: among the homeless. Most people don't get this help.

Román, 61, was so lucky to gain momentum after hitting rock bottom that she never stopped going to the small room where, every day, the Calor en la Noche association distributes dozens of breakfasts in the capital, Campo del Sur. He learned about the resource as a user and now returns once a week as a volunteer: “They helped me a lot, and now it's my turn to help, to do my part.” After a lifetime of working as a chambermaid in Lanzarote, the woman prefers not to remember the final setback that took her to the streets. “I found myself without a job, unemployed and without money,” he sums up. When it ended in Roman Street, IMV had already been in place for half a year, having been approved at the start of the pandemic as an emergency measure for vulnerable families. The maximum amount for an individual beneficiary will be around 600 euros per month in 2024, which will grow depending on the number of people in the household.

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In February, the Ministry of Social Security published for the first time the total number of people currently receiving IMV (previously it provided data collected since the aid came into force, not taking into account recipients who stopped collecting it): 557,405 households (comprising 1,669,361 people). The department insists it cannot detail what percentage of potential beneficiaries do not claim aid, but it accepts data from the Independent Financial Accountability Commission (Airef) as good. From 2022 onwards, it targeted 58% of unsolicited people, and it reached only 36% of households. In the case of the homeless, aid reaches only 5%, according to a study by Institute for Financial Studies (IEF) researcher Nuria Batanes.

There is a major problem of ignorance and access barriers regarding this assistance: many potential beneficiaries do not request it either because they do not know it exists or because they believe they will be denied. A study published last Friday by the European Network to Fight Poverty in the EU, a coalition of NGOs and other groups fighting social exclusion in the EU, found that 41% of potential beneficiaries of IMV were unaware of the benefit. , and both those who qualify for it and those who don't feel they don't meet the requirements (34%) or that it doesn't apply to them (42%).

For people who have no choice but to live on the streets, the disruption is even greater, says Rocio Urbano, a social worker at the NGO Calor en la Noche: “Something is wrong. [durante el proceso para pedir y la ayuda]and it creates anger, anxiety and hopelessness.” In the organization, some of the 117 homeless people in the capital of Cádiz – according to the last municipal census – ask for help in the procedures for the IMV, although it is the City Council and its shelter workers. To bear the weight of the administration.

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But they run into walls of inconvenience such as lack of user information and bureaucratic hurdles. The first, Urbano recalls, was the registration requirement, which they tackled by adding shelter plaintiffs. Another is that plaintiffs have bank accounts with companies that refuse to take them as customers because they have no income. “They do a tremendous job, but you meet the haves and the have-nots, each at a different point,” says Urbano.

Maman Roman, at the center of the film, volunteers once a week for Calor en la Noche, an NGO that works with homeless people.
Memon Roman, who is at the center of the film, volunteers once a week for Calor en la Noche, an NGO that works with homeless people.Alejandro Rusca

If coverage were to reach all eligible homeless people, the increased cost to the public treasury would be $130 million. This amount is low compared to the 4.3 billion earmarked for aid in 2023, but it could mean a reduction in inequality for the group of up to 80%, according to a study by Nuria Batanes.

Satanella Michalski doesn't let go of her black folder and pulls out the papers she gives to Urbano. “The IMV is supposed to wake me up, but it won't help me. My life is very difficult,” complains the woman, who was born in Poland 45 years ago, furiously. Michalski started applying for help in the summer of 2020. He was initially denied registration because he lives irregularly in an abandoned house. He settled it, with a delay, and it was granted in May 2023. But last November it was reduced from 565 euros to 357. After that, he wandered from administration to administration trying to find the reason, without any success.

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“Every complaint to management is a world, a Chinese torture,” Urbano admits. The social worker criticizes the amount received by homeless people, which can usually range from 462 euros to 1,015 euros per month, depending on the people who make up the family. : “Sometimes , they find it difficult to get out of their situation. “To fix my house, wash my clothes, 565 people gave me food. This fall forced me to turn to street resources,” Michalski explains.

Memon Roman charges 600 euros a month. She still remembers her overwhelming joy when the social worker told her she was going to collect the €4,000 she had received since claiming the IMV. “I decided to buy all the household goods to live in a house again, and it was like someone getting their trousseau ready to get married,” she explains excitedly. That same September 24, when she got permission, she managed to get off the street thanks to a friend who promised her a room in an apartment shared with seven other women. The girl from Cádiz has been dreaming of finding her own studio for some time, but there is no way: “With 600 euros you get one ear, you don't have enough for the other, the rent here is very expensive.”

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