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Street art is pointing homeless people and their dogs towards safe shelter

Five Brazilian street artists have created art to divert rough sleepers to temporary accommodation in São Paulo

For many Big Issue vendors, having a canine companion or a feline friend can offer some much-needed company while selling the magazine.

But pets can also be a barrier to securing accommodation, with many homeless shelters, hostels or private rental properties operating a strict no animal policy.

This was also a problem in the Brazilian city of São Paulo where, despite the number of homeless people swelling to 20,000, shelters were being left deserted after people opted to stay on the streets rather than abandon their pets.

Officials tackled the problem by building temporary accommodation that also featured spots for pets in kennels.

But how could they get the message out to the homeless people of the city, many of whom are without access to the internet, social media and other forms of communication?

The answer lay in graffiti. Officials enlisted the help of Nova/sb, a São Paulo-based advertising agency, to mobilise five street artists – Galo, Randal, Pixote, Thassio and René Muniz – to spray the way to the centres.

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Each artist was given a pitch on the roof of a viaduct or other areas where rough sleepers gathered in the city, with the only instruction being to make it clear that the shelters were nearby and dog friendly.

From there they could create whatever design they pleased in their own inimitable style to get the message across.

“The main goal is to talk to people when they go to sleep, when this is the scenario they see: the roof of the viaducts. It’s like using the public space as a new way of communication, and specific to talk with our target: the homeless people,” said Átila Francucci, creative vice-president of Nova/sb.

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