Homelessness in Chile persists as a problem. The wealth distribution continues to place a great number of people on the streets. Below are 10 facts about homelessness in Chile.
10 Facts about Homelessness in Chile
- Around 6,000 homeless live in Santiago, Chile. This number accounts for half of Chile’s homeless population.
- A significant cause of the high number of homeless individuals is because the minimum wage often does not cover housing costs. According to reporter Misha Wilmers, the average cost of an apartment per month is the equivalent of $200 over what the minimum wage offers.
- A Ministry for Social Development study found that 77% of the homeless population in Chile had jobs. A leading academic voice in Chile, Ignacio Eissmann, is skeptical of the report. Eissmann claims that it is misleading due to the inconsistent nature of many homeless citizens’ employment.
- Around 785 of the homeless are children. These “street children” live without access to proper food or education.
- A major contributor to child homelessness in Chile is familial violence. While some don’t have a home to return to, others won’t due to the adverse family situations. If there is an abusive parent, a child might choose the dangers of the street instead of facing a dangerous parent.
- The president, Sebastián Piñera, urges the Chilean citizens to help with the crisis. In 2012, he said, “please make the effort to get them to the shelters we have provided.” He went on to say that the shelters are helping reduce winter season fatalities.
- Housing inequality is a major contributor to Chilean homelessness. According to the Santiago Times, “[homeless Chilean citizens] are offered few to no government services and certainly no housing options but for periodic shelter and charitable services.” Without housing options, the homeless have little chance of changing their situation.
- A priest founded housing shelters that form a network through Santiago. The network is called “Christ’s Home,” and offers “trade schools, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities to serve the poor” according to the Catholic News Agency. According to Harvard’s Review of Latin America, Christ’s home “ministers to the sick and dying, tends to the homeless… Volunteers visit the elderly… They work with street children and orphans.”
- The government has attempted to implement housing shelters, but it has not had a noteworthy impact. Some citizens claim that the previous president was more effective in confronting homelessness. Others have noticed that the president seems unfamiliar with the reality of homelessness.
- While the plight seems grim and meagerly addressed, shelters continue to offer hope and futures to the Chilean homeless. For example, one lovely shelter—set up by the Salvation Army— specializes in helping older men. The existence of this shelter is significant since males make up more than 10,000 of the 12,000 homeless in Chile.
As people begin to take notice and set up organizations, the issue of homelessness in Chile may be brought to the forefront of government discussion. Meanwhile, 12,000 Chileans still struggle to find a place to sleep at night.
– Abigail Lawrence