Six months ago, Jose Moreno found himself without a roof over his head. Now wandering the streets of Lisbon, the 48-year-old said soaring food prices were making his life even tougher.
"For people with little money, it's becoming impossible," Moreno said after picking up a burger and pasta meal from a van run by homeless charity CASA. "All the prices went up."
Another homeless man, who requested anonymity, joined the long queue for free food saying that if it wasn't for charities he would "starve to death" as the inflation had made even bread unaffordable.
The impact of the Ukraine conflict has contributed to food price inflation, with the average cost of bread in the European Union 18% higher in August than a year ago, Eurostat data showed.
Carla Paixao, from Doctors of the World charity, said the number of homeless had "drastically" increased in Portugal since the invasion in February.
Rising living costs are exacerbating the problem. The inflation rate in Portugal, one of Western Europe's poorest countries, hit a 30-year high of 9.3% last month.
Low wages and high rents make Lisbon the world's third-least viable city to live in, based on a recent study by insurance brokers CIA Landlords. The average monthly salary is 878 euros ($852), but apartments rarely cost less than 1,000 euros to rent, the study found.
CASA director Maria Loureiro said the cost of living crisis was increasing homelessness but had also led people to reduce charitable donations to help manage their own bills.
"We have to make a greater effort to reach everyone but we don't have the capacity to respond to all," she added, explaining that requests for support had jumped by about 30% in the first half of 2022 from a year ago.
'TIME OF PRESSURE'
The same is happening in other countries. In Britain, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) said 4.9 million fewer people gave to charity or sponsored someone between January and April.
Also, inflation is eroding the value of those donations.
Analysis by CAF and Pro Bono Economics showed the 5.7 billion pounds ($6.31 billion) UK charities received in donations in the first six months of 2022 will be worth 8.5% less by year-end due to inflation.
Charities are also struggling to cope as they face rising energy bills and shrinking food donations which means they have to seek help from food banks. "This is a time of pressure," said Isabel Jonet, head of Portugal's Food Banks.
Paixao, from Doctors of the World, which provides health support to homeless people, explained that inflation and high housing costs were driving new groups of people into homelessness, including people with jobs but who are not earning enough to keep up with their rent.
Citing the gloomy international backdrop, she said the number of homeless people would be likely to increase even further this winter. "We are quite apprehensive," she added.
($1 = 1.0310 euros)
(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Miguel Pereira and Pedro Nunes; Editing by Jane Merriman)