Creative Solutions for Homelessness in Costa Rica
Located in Central America and bordering the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica is home to approximately 4.5 million people. Flourishing on global exports and the travel industry, many know Costa Rica for its exceptional exports in fruits, vegetables and coffee.
However, as a developing country, Costa Rica struggles from problems with sanitation, poverty and homelessness. More than 1 million Costa Ricans live in severe poverty, and approximately 52% of the population suffers from insufficient and unstable living conditions. Within the last few decades, citizens have emphasized the need to reduce overall homelessness, focusing on urban areas. Here are a few unique ways Costa Rican citizens are attempting to reduce overall homelessness.
Aiding the Homeless
The Chepe se baña project in Costa Rica aims to provide a better life for the homeless. Originating from the Promundo Foundation, Chepe se baña hopes to help around 200 homeless people near San José, the capital of Costa Rica. The name of the project references a large bus that consists of four showers and a ramp for people with disabilities. The bus provides efficient and free sanitation toward people living in poverty. Running on generous donations and private enterprises, Chepe se baña provides much help to the homeless in San José.
Costa Rican communities took matters into their own hands in 2015 when social groups Friends of the World and Vaso Lleno worked to provide relief for the homeless. More than 200 volunteers traveled to urban areas, ranging from Parque España to San José, offering daily necessities such as food, water and clothes. These volunteers were able to offer over 1,500 beverages, more than 18,000 kg of beans and hundreds of items of clothing for men, women and children. Volunteers would pack lunches with sandwiches and drinks, and deliver them to people in need.
While Chepe se bana and hundreds of volunteers may not end homelessness in Costa Rica, the support has certainly provided necessary relief for people who are in difficult living situations. It is important to understand that the acts of citizens do in fact create a noticeable difference when attempting to reduce global poverty.
Friends of Costa Rica
Outside of Costa Rica, an American organization called Amigos of Costa Rica is a nonprofit organization that uses funds to directly address poverty — specifically homelessness — in Costa Rica. Through donations and helpful resources, Amigos of Costa Rica has committed itself to aiding Costa Rica in achieving sustainable development.
Thanks to these and other initiatives, Costa Rica now has the lowest poverty rate in Central America. While Costa Rica continues to struggle to reduce overall homelessness and poverty, efforts to diminish or decrease poverty rates are now showing positive results. With increased efforts to support the homeless population in Costa Rica, overall poverty will likely continue to decrease.
– Elisabeth Balicanta