Puerto Rico’s homeless population has risen sharply—as much as 70 percent—in the past two years amid an ongoing economic crisis. Across the island of 3.7 million people, thousands of homeless can be seen sleeping on park benches, under bridges, or in doorways.
Before the economic downturn, 80 percent of the island’s homeless were tied to drugs, but financial and family problems now play a bigger role. One such person is Caridad Colon who, after three decades of financial independence, lost her job and her home, spent one night homeless, and now rents an apartment in a complex nicknamed Crackville: “I am terrified of my neighbors. I sprint up and down those stairs.”
The island’s poverty rate has inched up to nearly 47 percent. That’s compared with Mississippi, the poorest state in the U.S., where nearly 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Puerto Rico’s second largest city, Ponce, has no shelter for about 200 homeless people.
Posted July 10, 2013, 02:42 p.m.