Brazil scrambles to shield homeless people from biting cold

Jul 30, 2021, 9:56 AM | Updated: 11:02 am
A homeless person sits by a fire amid historically cold weather in Sao Paulo, Brazil, late Thursday...

A homeless person sits by a fire amid historically cold weather in Sao Paulo, Brazil, late Thursday, July 29, 2021. The Brazilian government's meteorological institute says low temperatures should endure until the start of August. (AP Photo/Marcelo Chello)

(AP Photo/Marcelo Chello)

SAO PAULO (AP) — A fierce cold snap is bearing down on homeless people in Brazil, and authorities, activists and religious leaders are doing what they can to limit suffering on the streets.

Temperatures in some areas of southern Brazil has dropped below freezing, and dozens of cities received snow and freezing rain. That’s especially worrisome this year after the pandemic exacerbated homelessness by punishing Brazil’s job market and the federal government diminished welfare outlay that was a lifeline in 2020.

Brazil’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, on Thursday donated 7,500 blankets and 1,000 sleeping bags to organizations that help the homeless.Authorities also transformed one of the state capital’s subway stations into a shelter with capacity for 400 people, where they are receiving soup.

The nation’s biggest metropolis on Friday recorded its lowest temperature in five years, 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 Celsius), according to the national meteorological institute. It was the second-lowest temperature in over two decades.

Maria Madalena Dutra, 36, was among those who shivered through the night on Sao Paulo’s streets as she slept atop blankets beneath a makeshift tarp. Dutra, whose day labor as a maid dried up during the pandemic, said she found no vacancy at a shelter.

“Last night, the cold was so bad that we lit a lighter in our hands to warm up, but it didn’t do anything. Yesterday was painful,” she said downtown on Thursday. “The temperature isn’t the only problem. Things get worse when it’s cold, windy and raining at the same time.´´

The Rev. Julio Lancellotti, a prominent Catholic priest, posted a photo to social media on Wednesday of a dozen people laid out on mats on the floor of his parish. They moved to a shelter set up by City Hall on Thursday.

Low temperatures are expected to endure through the weekend, and start rising gradually thereafter, according to the meteorological institute. Areas of higher altitude in Brazil’s southern region could see temperatures plunge as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius) . Wind chill makes the frigid air even more intolerable.

State governments have stocked gymnasiums with donated bedding. Parana state started distributing tens of thousands of blankets and set up temporary shelters. The government of the southernmost Rio Grande do Sul state was holding a blanket drive on Friday.

Christian Braga, founder of the nonprofit Group of Social Attitude that provides food and blankets to the homeless in Sao Paulo, estimates there are twice as many people in the streets this year as a result of the pandemic. He began collecting blankets from friends in 2016, when four people died of cold.

“It seems paradoxical, people dying of cold in a tropical city of a tropical nation like Brazil,” he said. “It shows how we have failed as a society in bringing together efforts to solve the problems.” ___ Álvares reported from Brasilia.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

NC Senate candidates to meet in likely only televised debate

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The two major-party candidates seeking to succeed retiring North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr are meeting for what is likely their only televised debate. Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd agreed to a one-hour debate being held Friday night at a cable television studio in Raleigh. Budd is a three-term […]
23 hours ago
Jordan Cromer cleans water-logged items at his home, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in North Port, Fla. Res...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian floods leave mess, insurance questions behind

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — Christine Barrett was inside her family’s North Port home during Hurricane Ian when one of her children started yelling that water was coming up from the shower. Then it started coming in from outside the house. Eventually the family was forced to climb on top of their kitchen cabinets — […]
23 hours ago
Attorney Chris Mattei displays a video during his closing statements in the Alex Jones Sandy Hook d...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Jurors weigh cost of Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook lies

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — For a decade, the parents and siblings of people killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have been tormented and harassed by people who believe the mass shooting was a hoax. How do you put a price tag on their suffering? That’s part of the task faced by a Connecticut […]
23 hours ago
FILE - Suffolk County Congressman Lee Zeldin listens as he prepares to participate in New York's Re...
Associated Press

GOP steps up crime message in midterm’s final stretch

NEW YORK (AP) — The graphic surveillance video shows a man on a sidewalk suddenly punching someone in the head, knocking them to the ground. With muted screams and gunshots in the background, the video stitches together other surveillance clips of shootings and punching on streets and subway trains as a voiceover says, “You’re looking […]
23 hours ago
Javier Diaz poses for a photo next to his home that was destroyed by Hurricane Ian in La Coloma, in...
Associated Press

10 days later, Cubans still recovering from Hurricane Ian

LA COLOMA, Cuba (AP) — Soldiers fix roofs and raise power poles under a blazing sun, while teachers salvage wet school books and residents cook over wood fires in La Coloma, a fishing and industrial town on Cuba’s coast that took the brunt of Hurricane Ian. Ten days after the storm left still unquantified devastation […]
23 hours ago
FILE - A sign advertises for help The Goldenrod, a popular restaurant and candy shop, Wednesday, Ju...
Associated Press

US hiring likely slowed last month (which may be good news)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The piping-hot U.S. job market may be cooling off, if only slightly. But what business managers, policymakers, investors and economists want to know is this: How cool would be cool enough for the inflation fighters at the Federal Reserve to begin to ease their aggressive interest rate hikes? The government’s jobs report […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Brazil scrambles to shield homeless people from biting cold