Homelessness in SurinameSuriname is a small country located in northern South America, bearing an abundance of natural resources and a range of cultures. Like many others, this nation stems from a history of colonialism. Therefore, many of its Indigenous populations experienced displacement in favor of immigrants since the 16th century. However, homelessness in Suriname remains a problem, as the country struggles with poverty and economic development.

An Ongoing Housing Problem

Despite having plenty of economic assets, Suriname has struggled to build a stable economy due to a number of factors. Corruption within the government has tarnished many economic sectors dominated by state-owned firms. Consistent economic depreciation has also made Suriname a less appealing destination for foreign aid and investment. However, the recent discovery of oil fields has ignited some interest in that market.

A failure to manage credit, public debt, tax collection and monetary policy are chief reasons for an increase in inflation. This has further led to the suppression of property rights among citizens. Unfortunately, the government’s repossession of citizens’ property and land has only worsened poverty and homelessness in Suriname. The government owns 98% of the country’s land, which has not benefited working-class citizens. Furthermore, this scarcity of private property has made it increasingly difficult for many workers to acquire their own land and achieve economic stability.

Homelessness in Suriname: The Statistics

Homelessness in Suriname is reportedly low, but the numbers are deceptive. Only homeless people in populous areas count in official statistics, which disregard people outside of these regions. This is because there are few mechanisms in place to matriculate citizens in Suriname. Additionally, only two organizations address homelessness in Suriname. There is also no day-and-night shelter for the homeless to take sanctuary in the capital city of Paramaribo. In recent years, this has left the homeless susceptible to violent attacks without any actionable means for justice or prevention.

In 2019, the government evicted 37 permanent residents from two shelters, which got shut down suddenly without clear reason. Overall, Suriname lacks a reliable infrastructure to address the growing prevalence of informal settlements, housing crises and urban sprawl. This has led non-governmental organizations to stage a plan for restoring land and property rights to destitute populations in Suriname.

The Government and an NGO Compete for a Solution

Suriname instituted a program in 2011 intending to divest land capital from the government back to its citizens. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) financed the program. Specifically, the program gave a one-time subsidy to low-income beneficiaries. Chosen by a sophisticated targeting system that subverted self-reported income statements, these beneficiaries received $3,000. This money improved current housing situations or went toward a down payment for a new home on another property.

However, beneficiaries had to own the land on which to build that house. This is an anomaly for almost any citizen, especially poor citizens. The program’s inherent bias toward those who already owned a home continued to alienate the most vulnerable. It also disregarded the goal to restore land rights to homeless people. Overall, the program exposed how unaffordable and infeasible land ownership is in Suriname. Only 87 new homes came out of this program as of November 2014, leaving homelessness in Suriname unresolved.

An Action Plan for Paramaribo

The IDB itself created an action plan in 2019 to address the alarming rate of housing disenfranchisement in Paramaribo. The plan outlines a comprehensive year-long study to map out the extent of homelessness in Suriname. It also includes strategies to transform informal living situations into habitable shelters. Specifically, one strategy the plan described was the implementation of a housing quality program. This would staff a project team to monitor and collect data from citizens who live in precarious situations.

The staff would also work in conjunction with an unburdening program to help families in financial duress. By locating and obtaining the means to build on new land, the program would help families resolve their housing deprivation.  In total, the IDB’s 264-page action plan reflects a steadfast effort to reduce homelessness in Suriname from an NGO. This is in stark contrast to the country’s government.

Conclusion

There is no one solution to the decaying stability of property rights and housing ownership in Suriname. Working-class citizens and homeless people alike can only hope for other well-funded NGOs like the IDB to intervene in issues neglected by the government. With this sort of dedicated assistance, homelessness in Suriname can decline within the next few years.

– Camden Gilreath
Photo: Flickr


When most Indians think about the rainy season, they think about the viable crops that will grow and the economic prosperity that will ensue. The rainy season takes on a completely different meaning, however, for one of India’s most overlooked groups: the homeless. Homelessness in India is a significant problem on its own, with an estimated 1.8 million homeless people living on the streets. When this large homeless population endures months of exposure to rain and winds, health complications and even deaths can occur. Due to its detrimental effects on health, homelessness during India’s rainy season is a significant issue to address.

Housing Shortages

In addition to India’s homeless population, another 73 million families lack access to sufficient housing. Many families have recently lost their homes as a result of forced evictions. In 2017, the national government tore down more than 53,700 homes. Approximately 260,000 people were forcefully evicted due to motives like city beautification projects and infrastructure development. Many of the evicted will now have no choice but to endure the hardships accompanying the rainy season.

India’s Rainy Season

India’s rainy season lasts from June to September. Rain and wind are very frequent, with some areas in central or western India receiving approximately 90% of their total annual precipitation during this time period. Southern and northwestern India tend to receive between 50-75% of their annual precipitation during these months. In 2005, the monsoons were intense enough to trigger floods throughout the country. These floods marooned villages and affected more than 800,000 people.

Homelessness During the Rainy Season

Homelessness in India actually increases during the rainy season. In August 2018, the Times of India reported floods left 54,000 homeless. As more people suffer these poor weather conditions, the homeless population increases.

During monsoon season, the homeless face increased difficulties. Homeless shelters often close during the summer months, leaving many to endure the hazardous weather conditions. Even if homeless people were able to find shelter during this season, they would still be forced to spend a significant amount of time on the streets in order to feed and maintain themselves financially.

Julia Wardhaugh, a senior lecturer in criminology and criminal justice at Bangor University, who has researched homelessness in India, stated, “Even if some shelter is found, then subsistence has to be on the streets, finding casual work (e.g. recycling materials) or begging for alms.” She also went on to note that “the health consequences could be severe, especially for vulnerable adults and for children.”

Unfortunately, data on this topic is limited, largely because it is difficult for the government to keep record of the homeless. As a result, their deaths are hard to track. One study, however, examined the deaths of homeless and unclaimed people in North India between 2008 and 2012. The study ultimately found that the majority of reported deaths occurred during the rainy season.

Finding Solutions

In response to persistent homelessness in India that is often worsened by the rainy season, several organizations are working to provide aid. Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA) is an organization working in Dehli to advocate homeless people’s rights and provide basic necessities such as food, clothes and shelter. AAA has provided more than 12 million beds, as well as health care to one million homeless Indians.

URJA Trust is an organization seeking to protect the rights of homeless women in India. The group has brought more than 400 women out of homelessness and into safe spaces, offered mental health support to more than 300 women and raised awareness of female homelessness in civil society.

Salaam Baalak Trust is an NGO that works to support homeless children. The organization conducts a variety of initiatives aimed at improving the lives of homeless children, including educational activities, outreach events and mental health programs. So far, they’ve supported 108,014 children.

 

Although homelessness during India’s rainy season is a significant contributor to the struggles faced by thousands, it is often overlooked. The lack of research on the effects of prolonged exposure to dangerous weather suggests the country has yet to fully acknowledged the gravity of this issue. However, once this aspect is further studied and understood as well, there is hope for alleviating poverty in India and improving life for millions.

– Sophia Gardner
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in israelHomelessness in Israel has been a rising problem in the country. Much homelessness in Israel is a byproduct of ongoing poverty that many Israelis face. In 2017, the poverty rate rose from 19.4% to 20.4% in 2018. Unfortunately, children make up a significant proportion of impoverished people in Israel. With Israel having many people on the streets without a place to call home, homeless Israelis are dying. Many homeless people have been killed over the last decade in Israel as well.

Lack of Assistance

One problem facing homelessness in Israel is the country’s failure to prioritize assistance for the homeless. Those who are homeless or struggling to meet their rental payments don’t receive enough benefits from the Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry to make ends meet. Specifically, Social Affairs and the Social Ministry only offer 1,632 shekels a month to these people who meet the requirements for aid. This equals $436 a month. Further, the maximum amount of money these services offer to victims of homelessness and poverty is 1,735 shekels a month. This equals $464 a month for a single person.

These living conditions make it challenging for poor Israelis to stay out of the streets. Moreover, this system helps less than half of homeless people in Israel. The other half don’t qualify because they can’t document that they are homeless. However, it is not easy for people on the street to support their claim easily. Even so, they still need any help they can receive to fight homelessness in Israel.

Fatality Rates Among the Homeless

Many people who find themselves on the street in Israel aren’t just financially hurt but are physically in danger, too. Many homeless people live in close proximity to others in the same situation. Additionally, many lack the funds to purchase treatment when they get sick, which is especially concerning during the pandemic.

As of 2018, 610 homeless people have died on the streets of Israel. Different diseases and viruses can be a major cause of death for those who die on the streets. Homeless people often suffer the same illnesses as others, but their death rate is three times higher. These circumstances can also make homeless people vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Indeed, as of October 2020, Israel has 126,419 cases of COVID-19. So far, 100,357 people have recovered and 993 have died.

Tackling Homelessness in Israel

Homelessness in Israel may seem impossible to eradicate, but many organizations are working to do just that. For example, the Israel Homeless Association (IHA) and shelters for the homeless have become safe havens for homeless people. The Lasova nonprofit organization and the Health Ministry have also provided a “home” to those on the streets. These organizations give them access a safe place to sleep. Around 1,900 people who are victims of homelessness in Israel are receiving aid from the Health Ministry. The IHA targets areas that are most at risk and ignored by the Israeli government. Recently, the collapse of the country’s safety net has caused the IHA charity to put its money into assisting struggling families.

Three years in a row, the IHA has provided clothes for the homeless in Israel registered with the Homeless Offices of Beer Sheva and Eilat. Additionally, the IHA, with the help of other service organizations, helped relocate seven families to a higher quality of living conditions. One hundred thirty kids in the Negev region who are homeless have received over $7,500 worth of toys from the IHA.

The work of organizations like the IHA provides a glimmer of hope among the crisis of homelessness in Israel. During the pandemic, the fact that homelessness puts many people at risk of death and disease is especially significant. Organizations and the Israeli government must work together to tackle this issue.

– Dorian Ducre
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in italyItaly has a population of just over 60 million people and boasts a per-capita GDP of roughly $34,000. This makes it one of the world’s most developed countries. Further, Italy’s location in the Mediterranean and its rich, diverse cultural history make it a land of opportunity. Some of its most profitable industries include tourism, agriculture, fashion, wine, olive oil and automobiles. However, despite having such a strong economy, homelessness in Italy remains an issue. Here are seven facts about homelessness in Italy.

7 Facts about Homelessness in Italy

  1. Official statistics may undercount the number of people facing homelessness in Italy. Roughly 3.2% of the country, or 2 million people, make under $5.50 per day. Of those people, more than 50,000 are homeless. However, because these figures come from major cities, there are likely more people facing homelessness in Italy. The country counts people as homeless if they are living in a public or outdoor space, an emergency shelter or a specific accommodation for the homeless. This does not include people in jail, receiving medical care or living with family. As such, official numbers often do not reflect Roma, Travellers and Sinti people who live in subpar housing.
  2. Middle-aged people and migrants are most at risk for homelessness in Italy. Half of all homeless people are between the ages of 35 and 54. Further, Migrants make up 58% of people facing homelessness in Italy. In Milan, 90% of people living in slums are foreign-born. Similarly, in Naples and Bologna, 77% and 73% of homeless people are migrants, respectively. Between 2011 and 2014, the average duration of homelessness migrants faced went up from 1.6 to 2.2 years. This is still less than native Italians, whose duration of homelessness was 3.5 years on average.
  3. As a result of the global recession in 2008, the rate of homelessness tripled. In Italy, the loss of a stable job contributes significantly to homelessness. Additionally, the rate of economic recovery has been slow. By 2016, an estimated 3,000 more people became homeless in Italy compared to 2011. Even in 2011, one in every four families in Italy was unable to make mortgage payments. This implies an increased rate of evictions and families made newly homeless. At the same time, the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 6.7% in 2008 to 12.7% in 2014. As of 2020, estimates place it at 9.1%.
  4. Italy fares worse on homelessness than many of its E.U. neighbors. For example, Italy spends the equivalence of $12 per person on housing. The United Kingdom, in contrast, spends more than 40 times the amount Italy does. In Italy, the financial crisis led to funding cuts for housing. Additionally, only 4% of Italy’s housing stock is public, which is one-fifth of the E.U. average.
  5. Homelessness in Italy is geographical. Specifically, about 56% of all reported homeless people live in the northern part of the country. Of all northern cities and cities across Italy, Milan has the highest amount of homeless people. Estimates suggested 12,000 homeless people in Milan in 2014. Central Italy contains roughly 24% of Italy’s homeless population, while Southern Italy contains 20%. Rome and Palermo report the highest number of homeless people in their respective regions.
  6. In 2018, the Salvini Decree ended humanitarian protection for migrants not eligible for refugee status. Most people who arrived to Italy receive humanitarian protection, and 100,000 hold work permits. With protections removed, the migrants faced evictions. These occurred in parts of southern Italy.
  7. Homeless people face unique struggles as a result of COVID-19. When Italy went into a full lockdown to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, police started fining homeless people for violating lockdown, simply because they could not follow lockdown rules. Additionally, building shelters amenable to social distancing proved challenging. Many homeless people also lack information about the virus and proper personal protective equipment. Finally, obtaining food became a struggle for many people facing homelessness in Italy.

Organizations Fighting Homelessness in Italy

Several organizations are helping to fight homelessness in Italy. Baobab Experience wrote an open letter to the minister of health, Roberto Speranza. It urged for health checks for migrants, many of whom were afraid to go to hospitals due to their immigration status. The organization also pleaded with the minister to find housing options for homeless people so they would not spread the virus to anybody else.

Emergency, another NGO, established temporary housing units for homeless people, including those requiring isolation. It hired educators, social workers and health providers to assist in the operations and show them how to use PPE properly. Similarly, between 2012 and 2013, Doctors Without Borders began providing free healthcare to homeless people in Milan. The organization reported that about 70% of those seeking care were migrants, mainly from Africa and Eastern Europe.

Additionally, the Community of St. Egidio has worked with Pope Francis to help poor people and refugees. The organization offers 100 beds, hot meals, counseling, hand sanitizers and masks to homeless individuals. Another Catholic organization, Caritas Italy, has also provided food and sanitation to people facing homelessness in Italy. Regular citizens have jumped in to help as well: in Naples, residents lowered food baskets from their balconies to feed people who were on the streets.

Moving Forward

These organizations bring hope to the fight against homelessness in Italy. As the facts above illustrate, homelessness remains a serious problem in Italy, one that primarily affects marginalized groups. However, the work of NGOs and other organizations can help reduce this problem and bring Italy more in line with its E.U. neighbors in reducing homelessness.

Bryan Boggiano
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in SomaliaWhat do people tend to think about when they first hear the word “Somalia?” A Google search of Somalia would bring up pirates. Somalia is a small country off the coast of Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world with more than 50% of its population living in poverty. Poor living conditions and homelessness in Somalia afflict many of its citizens.

Somalia as of 2018

Government policy in Somalia is leaving the citizens out on the street. At the end of 2017, Somali government officials damaged around 3,000 homes in the city of Mogadishu. They used bulldozers to tear down houses and evicted people from their homes. In 2018, the government displaced more than 2 million people living in Somalia. Moreover, the number of homeless citizens in the nation reached millions.

Droughts have left the second-largest city in Somalia with hundreds of homeless children. Interviews with the children of Hargeisa revealed terrible conditions in which children left their homes due to neglect and loss of means. Moving from rural to urban cities has resulted in these children living on the street, addicted to smelling glue to ease the pain required to fight for their lives. The drought along with a lack of food, water and shelter has resulted in child death, every day in Somalia.

Homelessness in Somalia

Somalia is in grave need of humanitarian aid. Whether due to droughts, violence or politics — millions of Somali citizens have been displaced from their homes. Homelessness in Somalia has progressively become a more urgent issue. In October of 2019, flooding washed away thousands of homes, separating families. Another factor affecting homelessness in Somalia is the migration of citizens from rural areas to cities. People moving into urban areas are settling in tents with little protection.

Poor sanitation is also a significant issue in Somalia. The lack of proper housing combined with a lack of water and food can increase the risk of disease. The number of people affected by malnourishment in 2019 was in millions. Furthermore, this tragedy has a major effect on children. Malnourishment is one of the leading causes of death for 14% of children less than age five. The lack of humanitarian aid in Somalia is also causing citizens to flee from home and move toward urban housing. Those who choose to move, settle in “makeshift shelters” which increase their exposure to terrorism and abuse.

Hope for Somalia

Overall, homelessness in Somalia is the result of multiple factors. Violence and terrorism cause a majority of people to flee from their homes. Yet, forced evictions pose a major threat to families in the agricultural sector as well. Changing weather patterns and year-long droughts result in death, famine and the loss of homes. Political instability and regime changes are also an underlying cause of homelessness in Somalia.

On a more positive note, there is hope for the future of Somalia. In February of 2020, the World Bank announced it would normalize its relations with Somalia. This new relationship will go a long way in helping to grow the country politically, socially and economically. The World Bank is providing Somalia with grants of over $250 million to help reduce poverty. The grants will provide natural disaster recovery for citizens impacted by the droughts. In the same vein, these grants aim to increase security for families by improving education, the health system and providing basic, household utilities such as water.

Hena Pejdah
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Homelessness in Honduras
As of the end of 2017, homelessness in Honduras was a prevalent issue. In fact, the IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center) reported that there were at least 432,000 IDPs (Internal Displacements) in the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of them left cities due to high rates of homicide and “levels of violence comparable to that of war zones.”

With Honduras having a high economic rate over the past years, reports have still determined that more than 60% of Hondurans live in poverty. In 2016, Habitat for Humanity estimated that the housing deficit for Honduras was over 1 million units. Meanwhile, in 2018, more than 17,000 people experienced displacement due to natural disasters and violence. Among these stark numbers, the topic of street children in Honduras has broken the ice as one organization reported that “an estimate 6,000 adolescents live on the streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula alone” and about 800,000 minors do not attend school or have employment. Here is some information about child homelessness in Honduras.

Child Homelessness in Honduras

Unfortunately, the reality for these children is more than not having a roof over their heads or beds to sleep in. Most of these kids have to earn their wages by selling artifacts, washing windows and begging as a means of survival. For those who are pushed to the limits, joining a street gang might be their only option as they seek a means for protection and ultimate survival.

The push to join the infamous “mara” gangs of Honduras has presented an even greater danger as Honduran children have increasingly participated in the frontlines of gang violence. The New York Times reported that, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, “in 2012, the number of murder victims ages 10 to 14 had doubled to 81 from 40 in 2008.” Due to this violence, families have taken the extreme measure of sending their children to the U.S./Mexico border to seek refuge. In 2014, in a span of 4 months, more than 2,200 children arrived at the border from the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras.

While Honduras saw the pertinence of child homicide rates, rather than alleviating the problem through increased social services, the Government of Honduras liquidated the Honduran Institute for Children and Families, which had run since 1998, in May 2014. The Government also closed all the children’s shelters along with it. Its reason for the cut in funding came from the ineffectiveness of political appointees who used 90% of the budget to pay salaries. Along with that, as nonprofit youth shelter Casa Alianza began to increasingly report on the high murder rate of children, the government denied the evidence and turned its face on the issue.

Casa Alianza

With the lack of government assistance, local and international NGOs have had to step up to provide shelter. Covenant House, or Casa Alianza, is just one of these organizations that hope to serve the homeless youth community. Casa Alianza opened its doors in Honduras back in 1987 and was the second Latin American site for the larger organization, Covenant House. Its methodology is simple; it gains the children’s trust by providing a safe and engaging environment and then either helps them return to their families or offers to allow them to stay at its residence centers. Jose Guadalupe Ruelas, the executive director of Casa Alianza, reported that thousands of children have found a home through this nonprofit shelter for homeless youth.

Combined with the stress of finding a proper meal and a place to sleep, homeless children in Honduras have been facing daily struggles of keeping themselves safe from street gangs and hoping not to become another number on a “murder rate” statistic. The constant danger and lack of funding from governmental agencies exacerbate the problem of child homelessness in Honduras further.

While organizations like Casa Alianza have provided much-needed assistance to this vulnerable population, governmental support and advocacy are necessary in order to properly address this concerning issue.

– Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in MoroccoMorocco, a country bordering both Algeria and Western Sahara, has faced increased conflicts with the rising issue of homelessness. In the country, there are thousands without proper shelter as the problem worsens. However, newly implemented organizations are seeing rapid improvements in homelessness in Morocco.

More than 700,000 Moroccan citizens are currently battling homelessness. In addition, it must be noted that the youth has been severely impacted as well. There are more than 30,000 children roaming the streets in search of basic resources, as many escape abusive home situations. Under a prevalent gap between the wealthy and poor, it is reported that more than 15% of the population lives on $3 a day. With the poverty rate increasing, many turn towards the streets. Approximately four million Moroccan citizens live below the poverty line.

Causes of Homelessness in Morocco

The main contributor to the rise of homelessness in Morocco is the Structural Adjustment Policy that was launched in 1963. Since then, the homeless rate has rapidly increased, leading to its large population in present day. The policy aimed to improve the finance and social sectors. However, due to underfunding and a misallocated budget, thousands of families lost funding. For this reason, many lost their homes to the government.

Another cause of homelessness in Morocco is the shift in values in Moroccan society. As mentioned earlier, the wealth gap between the ones in poverty and the wealthy have led to resentment against the homeless. With the focus on the upper class, the poor population of Morocco is not given any aid. In certain cases, the plight of the poor is simply ignored.

Consequences of Homelessness in Morocco

With the youth making up a large portion of the homeless population, various consequences have arisen. A major problem is the overall safety of the children on the streets. With tens of thousands of children without a home, many are subject to sexual assault and abuse. The streets of Morocco have been subject to numerous crimes against the youth.

Another consequence of the homelessness problem is the lack of education. In the rural parts of Morocco, only 36% of girls pursue an education. With the issue of homelessness, the youth prioritize survival over schooling. It is also reported that only one in seven children attend school in Morocco. Homelessness plays a primary role in these low statistics as children do not have the resources to pursue an education.

The Road to Change

Despite the rising numbers, there have been numerous efforts to combat homelessness in Morocco. For example, the Moroccan government has stepped up to help those in need. Jamila El Moussali, the Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Social Development and Family, has recently called for the largest shelter operation in Moroccan history. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has helped accommodate more than 6,300 homeless people and assisted 2,000 others in reuniting with their families. The government is looking to increase its involvement with the homeless in the coming years and boost social work to aid those in need. After completing one of the largest shelter operations, Morocco has seen a massive decline in the homeless population.

Even with the government’s newfound aid to help combat homelessness in Morocco, additional intervention is the key to make dramatic and long-lasting progress. For Morocco’s government to see a bright future and a reduced homeless count, it must act in a consistent manner to aid those in need. If the government can further boost the number of shelter operations, hundreds of thousands of homeless Moroccans would benefit.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: Flickr

poverty in argentinaArgentina is a presidential republic that achieved its independence from Spain in 1816. Starting with the election of President Mauricio Macri in November of 2015, a promise of reform and international reintegration was on the minds of many Argentinians. The current president, Alberto Fernandez promised further reform and economic improvement in Argentina. However, poverty is an issue that the country must overcome in order to realize the dream of a better country. The current state of poverty in Argentina is of question as well as the measures taken to alleviate the issue.

Poverty Levels in Argentina

The poverty rate in Argentina is on the rise. In 2017, the CIA estimated that 25.7% of Argentina’s population lived below the poverty line. This poverty rate increased to 35.4% in 2019 and in the same year, it rose again to 40.8%. This is also reflected in Argentina’s GDP which declined from $642.7 billion in 2017 to $450 billion in 2019.

Many attribute the current state of poverty in Argentina to the unregulated spending of the Argentinian government. Additionally, many critics of the government’s economic policies claim that by spending more than what they have, the government created a public deficit. This increasing fiscal deficit led to inflation which is at the root of Argentina’s poverty.

Reasons for Poverty in Argentina

As mentioned, inflation resulted from the increasing fiscal deficit of the Argentinian government. However, this was also a consequence of the continuous printing of pesos to pay off debts. Consequently,  Argentina’s consumer prices rose 53.8% in 2019. The lack of affordability of food, for example, had drastic effects on Argentinian citizens’ lives. In addition, the Central Bank of Argentina rapidly sold its reserve of foreign currency in order to counterbalance the rapid depreciation of the peso. During the same time period, the Central Bank also increased interest rates to 45%. All of these factors further contributed to the additional inflation in the Argentinian economy.

How Poverty in Argentina is Being Alleviated

There are many people and organizations who are trying to alleviate poverty in Argentina. One aspect of poverty is homelessness. In 2019, there were an estimated 198,000 homeless in Buenos Aires alone. Tadeo Donegana, an 18-year-old Argentinian student, developed a map app called Ayumapp to help the homeless of Argentina. Ayumapp allows its users to add locations of the homeless in their respective cities. Users can also add comments about what kind of specific help the homeless need.

The UNDP is also working with the Argentinian government to reduce poverty in the country. By furthering their Sustainable Development Goals, the UNDP has made progress in alleviating poverty. Some of UNDP’s outcomes include guaranteed food security for 198,000 people, providing healthcare to 15 million people without health insurance and training 7,500 youth to join the labor market.

Poverty in Argentina has its roots in the Argentinian government’s unrestrained spending. The huge fiscal deficit that resulted from this government spending and failed attempts to revitalize the Argentinian economy led to massive inflation. This inflation resulted in a lack of food affordability and homelessness in Argentina. However, there are those who are working tirelessly to better the current situation in Argentina. With this continuous support, many hope that a brighter future lies ahead for the country.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Liechtenstein
Homelessness is a global issue and perhaps surprisingly to some, it even occurs in developed countries. For instance, an estimated 500,000 people go homeless on any given night in the U.S. Homelessness is a difficult problem to tackle because it can arise as a result of many different and complex factors. These variables include housing affordability, drug use, racial or gender discrimination, domestic abuse, loss of jobs and more. With such a plethora of causes, it can seem daunting, if not impossible to handle.

However, some countries in the developed world (as well as undeveloped nations) have done a good job of reducing homelessness. Homelessness in Liechtenstein is virtually nonexistent. Liechtenstein is a small country in the mountains between Switzerland and Austria, spanning 25 kilometers and boasting a population of just less than 40,000. While there are hardly enough homeless shelters in the U.S., Liechtenstein had to shut one down due to its lack of use. Liechtenstein has taken several policy initiatives that help it achieve this level of success in eradicating homelessness.

Addressing Homelessness in Liechtenstein

To prevent homelessness in Liechtenstein, the government provides housing subsidies to its citizens. The lack of affordable housing is perhaps the single greatest cause of homelessness, worldwide. With more and more people looking for housing, the value of land increases substantially. In this same vein, even the cost of renting a home has increased. This, in turn, creates a housing crisis for those with lower incomes. When these vulnerable populations are unable to afford a place to live, many consequently turn to the streets for shelter.

Notably, Liechtenstein mitigates this problem using several measures to ensure that everyone has access to housing. There are subsidies for the purchase of private homes and the construction and renovation of houses are also promoted by the government of Liechtenstein. For families whose income falls below a certain line, the government will provide financial alleviation in the form of rental subsidies.

Fighting Unemployment

Unemployment is another common cause of homelessness. Moreover, Liechtenstein has done a good job retaining high employment rates. Liechtenstein is a very small country; so small that the amount of jobs in the country is greater than its total population. Due to this, unemployment levels are perpetually low. The majority of jobs in Liechtenstein are in the financial and manufacturing sectors. This, in turn, makes the country an attractive place to work. Furthermore, Liechtenstein is one of the most industrialized countries in the world.

Homelessness in Liechtenstein does not exist for two main reasons: (1) low unemployment and (2) its government policies that make housing affordable for everyone. It is encouraging to see that there are places in the world today where homelessness does not exist and people are enabled to thrive. While each country has its unique issues to resolve and challenges to overcome, they will all strive to fight against poverty and eliminate homelessness within their borders. In that regard, the world can look toward Liechtenstein’s policies and practices as an example.

Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Poverty in Denmark
When most people picture poverty, they do not usually imagine Denmark. Denmark is an affluent, Scandinavian country renowned for its welfare state. Most Danish people and many people worldwide see Denmark as a model society to look to when dealing with poverty and creating a more egalitarian society. Yet, despite the programs in place to support its citizens, poverty in Denmark is still a problem. In a worrying trend, levels of poverty and inequality have been steadily rising in the last two decades.

A report from the Danish National Center for Social Research (SFI) says that the number of homeless people in Denmark has increased by 23% between 2009 and 2015. In 2015, estimates determined that there were 6,138 homeless people throughout the country, with the increase in homelessness greatest in people aged 25 to 29.

Changes to Welfare State Benefits

So, why are things suddenly changing in Denmark? The country still has a welfare state, so why do people lack financial security or even homes? The answer lies in reductions to social assistance programs that began in 2002 and left many Danes behind.

In 2002, the Liberal-Conservative government enacted changes, cutting significant social assistance benefits for specific groups, such as refugees, new immigrants and ethnic minorities. It pitched these changes as a part of immigration policy reform. However, these changes have had lasting impacts on the welfare system and on poverty in Denmark as a whole. The government justified the cuts to social assistance as necessary to increase immigrants’ and refugees’ incentive to find work.

Many within Denmark have seen the intention behind these reductions as a power play to show “outsiders” in Denmark that they would not receive equal treatment until they actively earned the right through work. Denmark has been a historically isolated and homogeneous society. Denmark’s coming to terms with newcomers has been, and continues to be, wrought with debate as to whether or not “foreigners” deserve to be a part of the welfare state. Refugees have fled to Denmark by the thousands, the numbers climbing from around 3,000 in 2011 to a peak of over 17,000 in 2015, before decreasing steadily each year afterward.

Who Does Poverty Affect?

There is a noticeable divide between the haves and the have nots in Danish society. Most Danes are well-off, do not struggle financially and have the assurance that their taxes will pay for their children’s higher education, most of their medical expenses and other basic necessities. Meanwhile, the poor are marginalized.

Poverty among some of the most vulnerable members of Danish society has risen. The makeup of the poor is mostly single mothers and families composed of refugees and immigrants. In fact, one-fifth of all homeless people are foreigners. Additionally, a whopping four out five homeless people have mental health or dependency issues and are not getting the help that they desperately need.

Poverty in Danish children provides many of the most devastating figures of poverty in Denmark. Child poverty increases by thousands every year. By 2017, there were about 64,500 children living in poverty. Not only are the children in poverty suffering, but childhood poverty has lasting effects that make it difficult for poor Danish children to prosper as adults. Studies confirm that Danish children who grow up in poverty will likely achieve less education. Moreover, they might receive a lower wage when they themselves enter the Danish job market. Child poverty in Denmark not only hurts Danish children in the present but Danish society in the future. Yet, many Danes continue to tout their welfare system without examining what needs fixing.

Falling Short

Though Denmark has lower levels of poverty than many other countries, its poverty demographic is changing and has been for the last two decades. These numbers call into question Denmark’s worldwide renown as an inclusive and dependable welfare state, and as a model that other nations should follow. Though most Danish politicians across party lines claim to support the welfare system, many support cuts to social assistance benefits. The leader of the Alternative Welfare Commission, Per Shulz Jorgensen claimed that “the welfare society is not living up to its own principles,” and as poverty climbs in the Danish welfare state, it would seem that he is right.

Caritas Denmark

The good news is that many NGOs have been taking action to help fight poverty in Denmark. Caritas Denmark has sought to empower poor people both in Denmark and around the world, running programs and giving relief to refugees worldwide. It is sending aid to communities that the Syrian civil war has affected as many refugees have fled from Syria to Denmark. Estimates have determined that it will provide health care and support to 12,886 people.

At home, Caritas Denmark runs programs focused on providing training to the poor and supporting integration projects for refugees in Denmark, as well as trying to prevent domestic disputes. It is addressing these issues to ensure that everyone has an equal chance of employment and housing, and an escape from poverty. As an affiliate of the Catholic Church of Denmark, Caritas Denmark works with 42 parishes and about 40,000 Catholics annually in Denmark. More work is necessary, but there are many Danes still fighting against poverty, both at its roots in the refugee crisis and at home through training and social programs for the poor.

Though Denmark has held on tightly to its status as one of the happiest countries on earth, poverty in Denmark must be reckoned with. Danish people have begun to admit that poverty is a growing issue within Denmark, with a 2008 poll finding that 59% of Danes polled believed the wealth gap between well-off Danes and Danes in poverty required reducing. Nonprofits, advocacy groups and the hope of possible government action to support the vulnerable and the poor show that there is still a possibility of curbing the growth of poverty in Denmark. This way, Denmark can aspire to be the happiest country on earth for all Danes.

– Julia Ortiz
Photo: Flickr