Global situation of homelessness

What is homelessness? The term ‘’homelessness’’ can have many definitions, which depends on an individual’s own perspective, culture or on the situation of a country. There is no internationally agreed definition of homelessness. For many, homelessness only means not having a roof over their heads and having to sleep on the streets. According to the Canadian definition of homelessness, homelessness is ‘’the situation of an

individual, family, or community without stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect means and ability of acquiring it.’’

Under the open sky: Increasing numbers of people are homeless, in both wealthy and poor cities, from Russia to India  https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/cities-grow-so-do-numbers-homeless

In the last few decades, homelessness has become more and more visible in both, rich and poor countries. Based on the data collected in 2017 by Yale university, the estimated number of homeless people is about 2 percent of the world’s population, which is no less than 150 million people. About 20 percent of the world’s population might not have sufficient housing, that is about 1,6 billion people. Manila, the capital of Philippines is reported to be the city with the most homeless people in the world. Most sources suggest that there are more homeless men than women. This might not actually be true but the reason for this report is that in many countries, women face more danger of abuse, kidnapping or trafficking than men, which leads homeless women to hide or stay with friends and family.  

The majority of homeless people are aged between 18 to 59 years old all around the world. Also, children under 18 years of age have been increasing for the past few years. It is becoming more and more likely to see mothers with small children living in the streets, especially in many parts of Asia and Africa. Mainly in developing countries, the increasing number of homeless has also caused generations of the same family to live on the streets and not overcome homelessness. In addition to this, old age homelessness is also getting more common in some countries. One of the main reasons to this is the increasing number of retired people and the country not having enough resources to take care of the elderly people.  

The data collected on homeless people’s population, however, is never accurate. Gathering the accurate information about global situation of homeless people is extremely challenging for many reasons. Firstly, the challenge in collecting data is various definitions of the term in every country and culture. The second reason is the lack of resources and equipment to gather the information. Third, and the main reason for this is, people’s and government’s view of the homeless. Fourth reason is that many homeless people, also do not want to be registered in the system fearing arrest, foster care or losing custody of their children. 

Government often tends to neglect the situation of homeless because they see it as the embarrassing and irrelevant part of the society, which leads to the lack of commitment in collecting the data. How much can we believe the data provided to the world by the government on this situation, knowing what the government’s view of the homeless really is? Getting precise data of the situation is especially difficult in developing and poor countries for obvious reasons. The number of homeless in billion-plus countries such as China and India for example, can vary vastly from a few thousand to millions, mainly because of previously mentioned challenges.   

Homelessness is one of the bigger issues all around the world. Its challenges are visible in every country, some countries more than the others. The increasing number of homeless children, adults and elderly, influences the future on global level. As big as this issue is, it isn’t getting enough attention worldwide which has caused the condition to get worse in the past few years.   

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