Homeless People in Istanbul
“Hanging a bread” is a long-standing Turkish tradition during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. Before breaking the fast, people form queues in front of bakeries for a hot piece of “pide” bread. At the time of payment, they pay for an additional piece for those in need. The bakers secretly distribute these donations so that nobody knows who donates and receives them. This sharing tradition has expanded, as exemplified by a former homeless person, Ayşe Tükrükçü, who founded “Hayata Sarıl Lokantası” (Embrace Life Restaurant), a restaurant for homeless people in Istanbul.

Poverty and Homelessness in Turkey

According to the World Bank, in 2019, Turkey recorded a poverty rate of 10.2%. However, with the impact of COVID-19, this percentage increased to 12.2% in 2020. Additionally, despite being lower than other European countries, Turkey has a homeless population of roughly 70,000. At that point, the role of charities fighting against extreme poverty comes to the forefront.

The Story Behind the Restaurant

Having been a victim of domestic and sexual abuse and lived in the streets for months, Ayşe Tükrükçü did not want anyone to face the same conditions she experienced. After receiving support from “Şefkat-Der” (an organization supporting homeless people in Turkey), she wanted to help this disadvantaged group embrace life again. Tükrükçü went on to establish “Hayata Sarıl Derneği” (Embrace Life Association) in February 2017. Nine months later, the association started “Hayat Sarıl Lokantası” to serve as a restaurant for homeless people in Istanbul.

How Does the Restaurant Work?

The restaurant operates as a regular restaurant during lunchtime and accepts meal donations that pay for an additional meal. In the evening, it turns into a soup kitchen and distributes donations to the homeless people in the area. This initiative has drawn the general public’s attention, and volunteers, such as famous Turkish chefs, have also served in the restaurant several times.

Along with serving food to the homeless, the association also provides legal, psychological, training and basic medical support to them so they can build new lives. The association does not have any income-generating operations yet, and thus, these services are reliant on individual and corporate contributions. Thanks to media coverage and drumbeat, big firms such as Grundig – a home appliances brand – help keep Hayata Sarıl Derneği alive through sponsorships. However, in an interview, Ayşe Tükrükçü mentioned that regardless of the amount of the donation, they value all personal contributions as much as sponsorships because the donors join a community dedicated to doing good and bonding with those in need.

The Success of the Initiative

The success of Hayata Sarıl Lokantası is hidden in numbers. According to its website, between November 2, 2017, and February 14, 2020, the restaurant served 57,268 plates of free meals, hosted more than 500 volunteers in the soup kitchen, and saved 6,100 kg of food from being wasted.

A restaurant for homeless people in Istanbul reflects the outcome of an individual’s efforts to decrease poverty and its effects. The restaurant not only works to address an important social issue but has also brought the community together to implement long-term solutions that will positively impact thousands of people.

– Murathan Arslancan
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous People in Montreal
The state of Indigenous homelessness in Montreal is alarming. The Homeless Hub Canada reported that in 2018, there were more than 3,000 homeless individuals, a figure that has risen drastically since the pandemic. Of these individuals, an indigenous person is 27 times more likely to be homeless than a non-indigenous person, and an Inuk person is 80 times more likely. Despite Indigenous individuals expressing a desire to receive services, they usually do not get the care they deserve under the shelter system. There have also been reports of two deaths in the Milton Park area of Montreal during the harsh Canadian winter where temperatures hit -20 degrees Fahrenheit annually. Raphael Indre was a regular client of the Open Door Shelter and passed away in a public bathroom while the shelter had to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak in January 2021. Furthermore, during the pandemic, despite the lack of adequate shelter, the curfew did not exempt homeless indigenous people in Montreal and they received a $1,550 ticket for being outside.

A Background on Homeless Indigenous People in Montreal

When looking at the reasons for the high level of indigenous homeless people in Montreal, it is important to consider Canada’s colonialist history. In a 2020 policy report, The Homeless Hub Canada discussed the need to recall that colonial projects have prevented Indigenous people from accessing traditional land and resources. The Indian Act of 1876 allowed the Canadian government to control resources on reserves and subsequently displaced thousands of Indigenous people putting them in difficult financial situations. The act also stopped Indigenous people from being able to self-govern, hence, giving the Canadian Government power to veto any decisions.

Additionally, Indigenous children had to go to “residential schools” which the Canadian government established to indoctrinate Indigenous children into the Euro-Canadian ways of thinking. In addition to a large amount of abuse taking place in these schools, the students also did not receive the same education as the general public which discouraged them from pursuing higher education. This system largely contributed to the high levels of Indigenous homelessness seen today

Indigenous people in Canada, particularly in Montreal, struggle to access housing due to extreme housing discrimination. A 2020 study found that despite some Indigenous families having the right to certain supports, they still experience “discrimination in the provision of services, resulting in barriers to access.”

Steps in the Right Direction

The situation has incited organizations around Québec as well as the Canadian government to take steps to improve Indigenous housing and reduce homelessness. In 2019, the government passed Canada’s National Housing Strategy Act recognizing that “the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right affirmed in international law.” Additionally, Montreal created a “Strategy for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples,” which commits the city to support Indigenous social housing initiatives led by Indigenous organizations. Moreover, the city also approved a funding agreement of $1.7 million to help build 23 temporary housing units for homeless Indigenous women.

NGO organizations such as Native Montreal and Projets Autochones du Québec are also making significant progress in reducing Indigenous homelessness. Native Montreal originated in 2014 to “contribute to the holistic health, cultural strength and success of Indigenous families,” and their focus is not just homeless populations; they provide wellness programs for both families and youth and have raised more than $6 million over the years.

Projets Autochones du Québec (PAQ) started in 2004 as a social reinsertion program for First Nation, Inuit and Metis people experiencing homelessness in Montreal. During the pandemic, due to reduced capacities in shelters, PAQ opened a second temporary emergency shelter with limited admission restrictions for Indigenous people. Additionally, it provides psychological support, alcohol addiction treatment programs and transitional housing programs to help with financial literacy.

The state of indigenous homelessness in Montreal is grave, but with the help of indigenous-led charities and government support, one can hope for progress.

– Priya Maiti
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Poland
Poland’s
2004 Act on Social Assistance defines a homeless person as someone who “is not living in a dwelling” and “is not registered for permanent residence or is registered for a permanent residence in a dwelling in which they have no possibility of living.” The nation and organizations are taking several steps to address homelessness in Poland.

The Root Causes of Homelessness in Poland

In Europe overall, some researchers have found that “drug misuse, especially when co-related with mental illness, is a major factor in causing homelessness.” However, this does not mean that all homeless people have drug problems or mental illnesses. From January 2005 through June 2006 in Poland, experts conducted a study on the links between substance addiction and mental health diagnosis in homeless people. The study concludes that out of 200 homeless people, 57.4% suffer from substance addiction or a mental illness. Though not direct causes of homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness serve as contributing factors to homelessness, especially if there is little to no assistance to help them overcome or manage their conditions.

In Poland specifically, homelessness is largely linked to a lack of affordable homes on the market, placing adequate shelter out of reach for many. According to Habitat for Humanity, “Poland lacks about 1.5 million affordable homes.” In addition, about 70% of Polish families cannot afford the costs of a mortgage and Poland’s “rent market accounts [for] only 6% of the total housing stock.” Due to these circumstances, many struggle without adequate shelter.

Nonprofit work with a focus on homelessness helps to transform lives, ensuring that 40% of Polish citizens (around 15 million people) no longer have to live in inadequate and cramped housing.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization that began working in Poland in 1992. The organization’s vision is “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Habitat for Humanity’s work centers around providing assistance to impoverished people who lack shelter or live in substandard housing.

Habitat for Humanity has established the very “first nonprofit rental agency in Poland,” which aims to improve “access to affordable housing” for impoverished Polish people. The organization also raises awareness of homelessness in Poland and advocates for amendments to legislation and policies to increase access to affordable housing in Poland.

On the ground, Habitat for Humanity assists impoverished people in constructing and renovating housing. The organization works with the individuals in need as well as partners, donors and volunteers to achieve these goals. Habitat for Humanity also supports “homeless shelters, centers for victims of violence, nursing homes for disabled people, orphanages or youth facilities” through reconstruction or renovation work that ensures Poland’s most vulnerable groups reside in adequate conditions.

Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program provides opportunities to global volunteers to construct housing along with families in need. The program runs in several countries with severe houses crises, such as Poland. During the months of March through September, the Global Village program hosts construction projects in the Polish cities of Warsaw and Gliwice.

Since its establishment in Poland, the organization has constructed 120 housing units, among many other efforts to address homelessness in Poland on a broader scale.

The Future of Homelessness in Poland

Recognizing the struggles of the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Polish government allotted more than PLN 17 million ($4.2 million) in 2020 to assist the homeless. Through the Streetwork Academy project, more than 4,200 homeless people received support during COVID-19 through funding worth PLN 5.45 million ($1.3 million). From June to September 2020, the project distributed more than 20,000 protective face masks to the homeless.

With ongoing commitments to address homelessness in Poland, there is hope for one of the nation’s most disadvantaged groups to live a better quality of life.

– Kyle Swingle
Photo: Pixabay

Child Homelessness in India
Economic growth and expansion over the past few decades are responsible for India’s rank as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. India’s strong democracy coupled with its expanding international relationships places the nation in the top three economies that the world projects to possess the most economic power in 10-15 years’ time. Ironically, India also leads the world in high rates of child homelessness. Although current data in this regard is unavailable, a 1994 report by UNICEF estimates 11 million children on India’s streets. The Indian Embassy estimates that “in Delhi alone,” at least 100,000 children live on the streets. Given the population increase of 945.6 million to 1.39 billion from 1994 to 2021, one can widely presume that the prevalence of child homelessness in India has also grown substantially.

5 Facts About Child Homelessness in India

Although many recognize child homelessness as an issue that greatly impacts India, few know why these numbers are so high and the consequences that stem from it. In order to better comprehend the epidemic of child homelessness in India, it is important to first understand the factors contributing to this continued rise and the impacts stemming from this issue.

  1. The majority of children living on the streets of India are escaping abuse. India’s rates of child abuse are some of the highest globally. A study from 2020 notes that children younger than 18 make up 37% of India’s population. Roughly 53% of these children reported experiencing various types of abuse. Many children in India already lack access to proper nutrition, education and medical services. These conditions in tandem with family violence urge children to seek better lives for themselves, often away from home and on the streets of large nearby cities.
  2. Most homeless children in India work street jobs to provide for themselves. Young boys and girls can typically find work doing small jobs. “A former street kid,” Satender Sharma, who now serves as a tourist guide for the Salaam Baalak Trust, tells NPR that common jobs consist of working at fruit stands, shining shoes, cleaning cars and selling miscellaneous items. Sharma considers actions like pick-pocketing and begging as a form of work sometimes essential for the survival of boys living on the streets.
  3. Children living on the streets face a plethora of safety concerns. While leaving home is often the last resort in escaping an abusive household, homeless children still encounter many hazards on the streets. On a daily basis, children fight for their survival, facing “poverty, abuse and exploitation.” Girls living on the street are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and prostitution rings. Although the money children earn can certainly add up over time, most spend it immediately, fearing that others will steal the money. Because children are often able to seek meals at local shelters and temples, they often spend this money on “drugs or other expenses” that drive them deeper into the cycle of poverty.
  4. Rates of death on the streets of India average more than 10 per day in large cities like Delhi. A 2010 study reports an average of 306.25 deaths a month on the streets of Delhi alone — mostly women and children. Factors contributing to this high death toll include extreme weather patterns, malnutrition and a lack of proper sanitation. Most often, these factors impact young children most harshly. These statistics, although high, do not account for homeless people who friends and other acquaintances bury or cremate.
  5. Railway Children addresses child homelessness in India. Railway Children is a United Kingdom-based organization that operates with the belief that no child should have to endure life on the streets. In India, the organization visits railway stations, aiming “to reach vulnerable children as soon as they arrive on the platform and intervene before an abuser can.” The organization “provide[s] food, shelter, safety and support” but also commits to long-term solutions “so children never go back to the streets.” Railway Children aims for transformation by working with communities to raise awareness of the issues street children face and garner community support in protecting them. The organization also lobby’s the government to create change on a legislative level, ensuring policies protect the rights of all children, especially street children. In 2018 alone, Railway Children was able to reach and support 8,338 children in India. The donations to Railway Children go toward efforts on “outreach, shelter, reintegration, influencing and raising more funds.”

Moving Forward

As the population continues to grow, the rate of child homelessness in India can expect to grow too. However, while it is important to recognize the severity of child homelessness in the country, it is just as crucial to understand the ways in which varying groups are already mobilizing to tackle this issue. These five facts stand as a first step in educating people on the issue of child homelessness in India with the hopes that a broader awareness will lead to expanded interest and a desire to respond.

– Chloe D’Hers
Photo: Flickr

New Crisis AmbassadorsOn July 15, Crisis announced broadcaster Ayo Akinwolere and actress Imelda Staunton, two award-winning stars, became the organization’s newest ambassadors. The two join other popular and well-known Crisis Ambassadors, including Ellie Goulding and Jeremy Paxman, in an effort to raise awareness for the organization.

Crisis and Homelessness in the U.K.

Crisis is a U.K.-based organization working to alleviate the issue of homelessness in England, Scotland and Wales through various services. Some of those services include one-on-one support, courses and advice. The organization also carries out research on homelessness and helps people find housing.

Homelessness has been a long-standing in the U.K.. It is estimated 280,000 people, or one in every 200, are homeless in England.

Crisis reports the COVID-19 pandemic clearly exacerbated the increase of homeless people in the country. As there are concerns that statistics surrounding homelessness are not accurately captured in official reports, Crisis carries out its own research to fully understand the scope of the problem.

Ambassadors

A Crisis Ambassador is a role that works to increase awareness and donations for the organization and its mission. Before the announcement, both Akinwolere and Staunton provided prior support to the organization.

Akinwolere supported the charity’s Christmas campaign last year by providing entertainment for the guests and appearing in their fundraising film. Staunton has supported the organization for ten years, becoming a regular at various events, fundraisers and services.

Both ambassadors experienced success in their respective careers. Staunton, popular for her role in the Harry Potter film franchise, has acted in numerous critically acclaimed films. Akinwolere has won awards for excellence in broadcasting. Both ambassadors share a large following and commitment to social justice. Therefore, the two fit the role because they can use their platform to increase awareness for the organization.

Akinwolere’s Q&A with Crisis

In a Q&A with Crisis, Akinwolere said he is looking forward to his role because he wants to help raise awareness for the organization and highlight the important work they are doing.

“To be able to highlight Crisis and its work clearly to audiences is so important to ensure those supporting Crisis through donations and campaigning can see the humanity within many of the journeys of people experiencing homelessness.,” Akinwolere said.

He said he has been supporting the charity for years, but their relationship blossomed in the last few years.

Akinwolere also noted the importance of continuing to help the nation’s poorest as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Homelessness is a really complicated and complex situation across Great Britain and as coronavirus restrictions lift, we cannot see the levels of homelessness return to what they were previously,” he said. “With the right approach, we can really move forward to end it.”

He also said he is looking forward to moving forward “with a really modern and holistic approach to help end homelessness for good” as he becomes an ambassador.

Staunton and Akinwolere will join others in raising awareness for the work the charity is doing in ending homelessness in the U.K. and supporting those citizens as they transition out of the streets and into housing.

– Laya Neelakandan
Photo: Geograph

homeless women in cornwallPeriod poverty means a woman or girl is unable to afford sanitary products to properly manage menstruation. In 2017, research showed that a tenth of girls in Britain could not afford period products. About 15% of girls struggled to afford period products, including homeless women. Period poverty complicates girls’ lives and denies girls many opportunities. In Cornwall, located in Southwest England, many homeless residents are women facing period poverty.

Period Poverty among Homeless Women

In the United Kingdom, about 280,000 people face homelessness. Within this figure, a sizable number are women who sleep in a visible and vulnerable place and struggle to access period products. According to research published by The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies, homeless women interviewed described their periods as “emotional” and “painful” and connected with poor mental health. Women who face homelessness require rest and privacy during their period and often find it highly challenging to meet these needs.

Women experiencing homelessness often face difficult choices. For instance, they often conceal and hide their periods and use toilet paper as a substitute for sanitary products. Other options include “survival shoplifting” in order to have necessary period products for the month. Another issue is that some homeless shelters do not offer period products regularly because these products are not seen as a basic necessity.

The Story of Bimini Love

At the age of 15, British teenager Bimini Love started the project Street Cramps in order to provide “sanitary products, clean underwear [and] heatpads” to homeless women in Cornwall. Bimini’s passion and efforts started when she recognized an alarming increase in the number of homeless women where she lived. She learned about the pain period poverty caused for homeless women. This issue started her research on period poverty among homeless women and the lack of basic sanitary needs. Period poverty for homeless women can be particularly difficult to address.

In response to this issue, she began Street Cramps. Bimini went online and started a fundraiser to get more money to pay for more products and raised more than £7,000 on Crowdfunder. She worked to get period products to homeless women in Cornwall. Her initiative led her to contact homeless shelters in her area to ensure homeless women in Cornwall had access to certain period products, expanding her efforts and outreach along the way. Today, Street Cramps projects are spreading to different cities as well.

Recognition and the Future

In 2019, Bimini won the Points of Light award and was acknowledged by the Prime Minister for improving the lives of many women facing period poverty. Bimini also spoke about period poverty among homeless women in Cornwall in her TedX Talk, “Street Cramps: a 15-year-old tackles period poverty.”

While Bimini raised a large sum of money and helped women in need, the fight continues. Street Cramps proves that homeless women do not have to endure period poverty without support. Moving forward, efforts like Bimini’s can alleviate both pain and suffering while deepening community ties.

Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Unsplash

projects in portugalPortugal already suffers from significant poverty and the recent COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating these struggles. Prior to the pandemic, a fifth of the population, or approximately two million people, were considered at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The pandemic pushed around 400,000 people below the poverty line. Additionally, it increased the at-risk-of-poverty rate by 25%. However, Portugal’s two new poverty projects, formed within the last two years, work to significantly mitigate Portugal’s poverty problems. The projects address two main problems within Portugal: homelessness and child poverty. In addition, these two projects plan to ambitiously confront these features of poverty beyond the pandemic to offer sustainable poverty reduction in Portugal.

CRESCER’s É Uma Mesa Project

CRESCER is an organization that funds several initiatives in Portugal. It aims to promote the health and social integration of the most vulnerable on the streets of Lisbon. In recent months, CRESCER created the É Uma Mesa project. One of a few innovative projects in Portugal, É Uma Mesa centers around the restaurant and catering business. It prompts the social inclusion of specific vulnerable groups into the labor market. The project focuses mostly on homeless people but also supports refugees in extreme poverty. There are two main features of the project: conducting extensive training and offering restaurant employment.

The first feature consists of extensive training for homeless and extremely impoverished refugee groups. The É Uma Mesa effort trains these individuals in social and relational skills. They receive this on top of the service and catering skills acquired from on-the-job restaurant training. Furthermore, É Uma Mesa also offers “psychosocial support” to improve mental health for the homeless. Multifaceted training helps enable better integration of the homeless into the labor market and leads to greater inclusion within Portuguese society.

The Project’s Impact

É Uma Mesa notably supported the homeless community in recent months. FEANTSA, a major European group working on homelessness, recognized its achievements by awarding the project the 2021 Silver Prize of the Ending Homelessness Awards. Moreover, the project does not focus solely on homelessness during the pandemic and it is planning for the future with some notable long-term objectives.

These long-term objectives aim to significantly minimize Portuguese poverty and homelessness. One aim is to integrate 75 beneficiaries into training and 40 beneficiaries into the labor market each year. Efforts seek to improve the lives of the beneficiaries beyond the short term. To achieve this, ameliorating social and health conditions to ensure consistent stability remains a priority. And, CRESCER hopes to ensure the project is self-sustainable after three years.

La Caixa Foundation

La Caixa Foundation is the second of two new poverty projects in Portugal. Its main goal consists of providing several major initiatives that improve Portuguese child poverty and education. Its “social observatory” division is instrumental in conducting studies. Supported by the Center of Economics for Prosperity (PROSPER), the effort works to provide more accurate figures on poverty in Portugal.  The on-the-ground situation in Portugal plunged significant proportions of the population into poverty or propelled many to become at risk of poverty.

The other key division of this foundation is the “social programs” division. Specifically, this division made its most significant impact on minimizing child poverty and furthering education prospects for impoverished families. The collaboration of more than 400 local social organizations promotes the social and educational development of young children and adolescents. Simultaneously, this is in conjunction with mobilization efforts targeted at eradicating child poverty. As a result, La Caixa Foundation’s “CaixaProinfancia” has proven to be significant in its impact. In 2020, the project’s work enabled 58,841 impoverished children to attend school and supported 35,326 families.

Ultimately, these dual efforts reduce the impact of Portuguese poverty through multiple efforts. As the pandemic continues, many of those suffering the most gain critical support at critical times. As La Caixa and CRESCER continue to meet their goals, many of Portugal’s most needy stand to benefit.

Gabriel Sylvan
Photo: Flickr

Youth homelessness in IrelandIreland has been working to reduce homelessness and improve emergency services for its disadvantaged citizens for years. Current structures and policies help the homeless but leave out the struggling youth. The forgotten young people of Ireland have been ignored by social housing programs and blocked from receiving full welfare payments. To end youth homelessness in Ireland, the government is looking at the gaps in policies that allow young people to slip into poverty.

The Problem

Youth homelessness in Ireland has increased by 90% in the last three years, leaving more than 850 people aged 18-24 without a place to call home. Just five years earlier, only 450 young adults were homeless, exemplifying the growing issue in Ireland. The Department of Housing Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPCLG) provides these statistics, but the data is incomplete.

In addition to these figures, there is also a prevalence of the “hidden homeless” among Irish youth. The hidden homeless include those couch surfing, squatting or residing anywhere that is not sustainable. Because these young homeless people are not utilizing state services or shelters, they are excluded from data on youth homelessness in Ireland.

In 2016, the number of young people still living at home with their parents increased by 19%, reflecting the rise in rent and lack of affordable housing available. However, children that come from broken, abusive or absent families have no one to care for them once they reach 18.

The Tusla Child and Family Agency cares for homeless or impoverished minors. However, just like parents, they have no legal responsibility to take care of the children after the age of 18. These policies neglect to account for transition periods, leaving young people alone the moment they reach legal adulthood.

The Cause of Youth Homelessness in Ireland

Currently, Ireland’s approach to its homeless situation is mostly emergency, reactive services. To reduce youth homelessness in Ireland, the focus must pivot to prevention and intervention for at-risk young people. The factors that force young people into homelessness often begin in their childhoods. They experience poverty, traumatic life events, family conflict and general instability from a young age and are not given the tools to transition successfully into adulthood.

Young people are at the bottom of the list to get accommodations in social housing. After being bounced around between social housing, emergency shelters and other temporary government accommodations, young people often give up on the system because they become tired of the repeated placement circuit. Landlords often reject young people due to a lack of finances and references or simply because they find young tenants undesirable. This age discrimination is one of the main causes of youth homelessness in Ireland.

The Consequences for Homeless Youth

Citizens younger than the age of 26 are not eligible for full welfare payments and can only receive reduced payments, if they receive anything. Stifling the financial welfare of people from such young age rather than offering support leads to long-term poverty and increased homelessness in the community. Two-thirds of young homeless people in Ireland reside in Dublin. Here, many living spaces are used as Airbnbs. As more short-term rentals pop up and crowd the city with tourists, more young citizens are forced to sleep on the streets.

A six-year study into youth homelessness in Ireland focused on 40 young people between the ages of 14 and 22. The majority of these participants came from situations where they experienced trauma and severe poverty, leading them to drop out of school early. More than half of the participants in the study reported they had tried heroin and have a criminal record, showing the severe consequences when disadvantaged young adults have no support system. Most of them had experienced homelessness by the age of 15, illustrating the need for early intervention in these tumultuous situations.

The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness

The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness in Ireland is comprised of 16 organizations and charities dedicated to getting young people off the streets. This issue has been forgotten for many years. Still, all of these organizations are stepping up to end the neglect of the country’s young and bring awareness to the issue.

The Coalition to End Youth Homelessness recommends the Irish Government invest in mediation, counseling and mentoring services for minors that live in instability. Through intervening in difficult family situations early, the government can provide tools to children to facilitate a smooth transition from a rocky childhood to successful adulthood.

Housing First for Youth

Housing First for Youth offers safe housing for young adults ages 18-24 and ongoing aftercare. The organization also supports the full transition into adult life. Without an aftercare plan and a sense of support, the odds of a young individual falling back into homelessness are high. Housing First for Youth facilitates positive, supportive relationships between the young homeless and their caseworkers, ensuring youth feel less alone in the world.

To help young people exit homelessness and live independently, they need safe housing and continued support. There are currently no social housing programs specifically for young individuals. There are risks when young people reside in accommodations inhabited by adults including intimidation, exploitation and exposure to criminal behaviors.

Efforts From Other Organizations

Other organizations in Ireland have recognized the prevalence of youth homelessness and made efforts to provide safe spaces and support for disadvantaged young people. Good Shepard Cork caters to homeless individuals ages 15-19, specifically focusing on women and children that are susceptible to fall back into homelessness. Continued support is essential to ending youth homelessness in Ireland and lifting these young people out of poverty permanently.

The six-year study published by the Health Research Board illustrates the effects of an impoverished childhood. By conducting research such as this long-term study, officials can pinpoint the early causes that lead to a life of poverty and find ways to intervene. Ensuring that struggling youth remain in school and receive ongoing support can help to reduce youth homelessness in Ireland.

Prioritizing Homeless Youth

Investing in community and school-based prevention methods has helped reduce youth homelessness by 40% in Australia and Canada. To reduce youth homelessness in Ireland, the government must follow their lead and pivot toward prevention rather than emergency services. By prioritizing the homeless youth in government policies and services, the state can prevent long-term homelessness and reduce overall poverty rates in the country.

Veronica Booth
Photo: Unsplash

housing solutions for the PhilippinesThe homeless population in the Philippines is a staggering 4.5 million, representing about 4% of the population. This number is expected to rise to 12 million by 2030 if no action takes place to address the issue. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is where a significant portion of homeless Filipinos reside. For this reason, activists often center efforts around increasing housing solutions for the Filipinos in Manila. Hope in solving the housing crisis is rising as efforts begin introducing creative solutions to cater to the Philippines’ unique needs.

Bamboo Houses

EarthTech, an innovative development agency focused on sustainability, recognizes the Philippines’ housing problem as a crisis. EarthTech has proposed an affordable, sustainable and efficient solution: modular homes made out of bamboo. Unlike other housing solutions for the Philippines, CUBO Modular, the designer of the homes, prefabricates them off-site. This means that the homes can be put together on-site in just four hours. The engineered bamboo lasts up to 50 years and absorbs carbon rather than produces it. This makes bamboo a durable and environmentally friendly material.

Solar Paneled Homes

The Philippines has one of the highest household electricity rates in Southeast Asia, often creating a financial burden for low-income houses. Imperial Homes Corporation (IFC) has been tackling this problem through the development of “energy-efficient communities” like Via Verde Homes.

Via Verde houses consume about 25% less water and roughly 40% less energy in contrast to standard housing. IFC also installed solar panels on the roofs of all Via Verde Homes. The solar panels substantially cut down families’ electricity bills, allowing them to afford other essential needs. The IFC continues to work on building low-income, solar-paneled homes in the Metro Manila area. The innovative company has received international attention, winning the ASEAN Business Award for Green Technology in 2017.

Resistant Housing

The Philippines Archipelago experiences an average of 22 typhoons a year. Normally, five to nine of those typhoons cause serious damage. Typhoon Sisang in 1987 demolished more than 200,000 homes, after which the Department of Social Welfare and Development initiated the Core Shelter Housing Project. The Project teaches the Filipino community how to construct their own weather-resistant homes. The Project has created more than 41,000 low-cost houses for people whose homes have been destroyed by annual typhoons. Each home costs about $300 to build. Construction of the homes focuses on resistance, and when finished, can withstand typhoons up to 180 kph. Furthermore, the shelters are built with locally available materials such as concrete and steel. This makes the shelters one of the most ideal housing solutions for the Philippines.

Long-Lasting and Inclusive Urban Development

The Philippines Housing and Urban Coordinating Council, a governmental organization, released a statement addressing the growing homeless population in Manila and other cities in the Philippines. The Council stressed the need for community input regarding housing solutions in the Philippines. Bringing the community into the conversation means leaders can better understand the root problems that affect a particular area.

The Council would focus on long-lasting urban development, meaning permanent housing solutions rather than more temporary and unstable shelters. The statement also addressed the need for increased water and job availability. The Council believes this would holistically solve the Philippines’ housing crisis.

Advocacy and Sustainability

Habitat for Humanity runs a Habitat Young Leaders Build movement that mobilizes youth to speak out in support of homeless communities, build houses and raise funds for housing solutions. Habitat Philippines is advocating the Presidential Proclamations to implement tenure policies for informal settlers who reside in illegal, unused housing, making them vulnerable to losing shelter.

This organization, along with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, is in the process of implementing the New Urban Agenda into the development strategy of the Philippines. This Agenda is a document outlining standards and policies necessary for sustainable urban development. Thus, the implementation of the New Urban Agenda would provide the foundation for permanent housing solutions for the Philippines and other urban programs.

Moving Forward

In order to create permanent housing solutions for the Philippines, urban development that includes resources and programs to keep Filipinos out of homelessness and poverty is needed. Housing that is sustainable, resistant to natural disasters and affordable to purchase and maintain will ensure the basic right to shelter for many Filipinos.

– Sarah Eichstadt
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness In Sri Lanka
Nestled off the southeastern coast of India, Sri Lanka is a beautiful island country. It has long beaches, beautiful greenery and a rich cultural history, making it a popular tourist destination. Sri Lanka has a population of almost 22 million people and the country boasts a relatively low crime rate. Yet, inside Colombo city and across the country, Sri Lanka has many homeless individuals. Though exact numbers of the homeless population in Sri Lanka are unavailable, 1.5 million Sri Lankans do not own land, a factor that certainly impacts homelessness. The homeless inhabit bus shelters and street corners around Colombo city and are often located in rural regions. Homelessness in Sri Lanka remains one of the most visible forms of poverty in the country.

Poverty and Homelessness

Sri Lanka, a country that was traded between colonial powers like the Dutch and the British, only gained its independence in 1948. Agriculture remains the largest industry, employing anywhere from 25% to more than 35% of the entire population, according to varying estimates. In addition, 80% of the population lives in rural areas, making Sri Lanka one of the top five least urbanized countries.

The Sri Lankan Civil War, which lasted from 1983 to 2009, has had a lasting impact on poverty and land ownership in the country. The conflict displaced thousands of Sri Lankans, many of whom still feel the impacts of the war today.

Land is a valuable resource to those who have it, a fact that more than 1.5 million Sri Lankans living and working without land are well aware of. Legally, those who do not own land lack many basic human rights. Without an address, Sri Lankans cannot claim state welfare assistance. They also cannot send their children to school or vote in national and local elections. Restrictions are placed on activities in homes controlled by landlords, largely because landlords do not have a lot of oversight. The homeless in Sri Lanka, especially the elderly, remain the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis.

The Good News

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lankan government officials are ensuring the protection of the homeless living in the capital city of Colombo. When the government implemented a curfew in March 2020, many of the homeless remained living on the streets. With the help of local police, more than 300 homeless individuals living in Colombo have been housed in quarantine shelters with food and basic necessities provided for them. Senior deputy inspector general of police for Western Province, Deshabandu Tennakoon, notes that it is not safe for people to be living on the streets with a respiratory virus circulating the globe.

Homelessness in Sri Lanka is a persistent issue that impacts the country. While the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more awareness, there is a long way to go to eradicate homelessness. Moving forward, the government of Sri Lanka and other humanitarian organizations must make homelessness in Sri Lanka a priority.

Alex Pinamang
Photo: Flickr