Fighting Homelessness Worldwide As Prices Soar

Published 3 November 2022  Article By Munir Bhimani

The number of homeless people worldwide is estimated to be between 100 million and one billion – the actual definition of homeless depends on the country, which accounts for the wide differentiation in numbers.

What constitutes a homeless person in the UK, does not necessarily translate into the same thing on the streets of India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. That makes neither one nor the other more acceptable – it simply refers to what is acceptable in a certain culture or environment.

For example, in the developing world, many individuals travel from rural to urban areas to seek work, earning money that can help to supplement their village life. Leaving behind homes and families, they often work in low-paid, unskilled work and choose not to find accommodation to ensure that they can send their money back to their families.

It’s been difficult to get a true picture of homelessness in the UK. The numbers have been skewered recently because of Covid19, and initiatives put in place to protect the homeless during lockdown. Rough sleepers were housed in hostels, meaning that the number of those on the street reduced by five percent between 2019 and 2020.

Now that restrictions are all lifted, these numbers are set to rise to 270,000 by 2024 and reach close to 300,000 by 2036.

The rising cost of living as a cause of homelessness

It is a simple concept to simply link the increase in the cost of living to homelessness. While it may play a contributory factor, it is rarely the sole cause. Rather, it is often part of a spiralling of events that can lead to someone losing their home and finding themselves out on the streets. Meanwhile, when the cost of living is set to soar as much as is currently predicted, then it may well precipitate the number of people who will end up homeless on the streets of the UK in the coming months and years.

In developing countries, there are a number of factors that contribute to people living on the streets.

Lack of affordable housing

Many developing countries are experiencing an explosion in the growth of their urban populations. Rural incomes are struggling to keep up with modern costs and, as more and more (often young men) arrive in the cities, the housing system is failing to keep pace and produce adequate, affordable housing solutions to ensure people keep off the streets.

The confusion often comes because a lot of these young men choose to sleep wherever they can find a convenient spot rather than pay for accommodation – preferring to send the money they earn back to their families. It is because of this that there is a degree of grey area as to who and what constitutes a homeless person – many of these young men are simply following a route that many of their family members have followed before and do not consider themselves homeless.

What is more concerning is the growing trend of women and children who are considered homeless. A woman may be escaping from an abusive situation (either from the husband, or the husband’s family). They may be abandoned or widowed and cast out by other family members. Finding themselves alone, with no money, on the streets with young children to look after, these women are at severe risk of falling into prostitution or violent attacks by men.

Mental health, addiction, and homelessness

Mental health and addiction are synonymous with homelessness, and this is universal. Whether it is the mental health and addiction problems that are a direct cause of homelessness through an inability to work, or whether a chain of events led someone to be on the streets, and that in itself created the mental health and addiction issues – they are a primary factor in keeping people on the streets and out of the workplace.

These states make people more vulnerable to finding themselves out on the streets. Equally, once they are on the streets, they are more vulnerable to being caught in an addiction trap, which can lead to mental health issues. It is one of the universal states that societies are fighting the world over through effective housing programmes. With little or no systemic help in place to help people fight their addictions, homeless people are left abandoned to struggle through and fight their own demons.

Whatever it is that put people on the streets in the first place, they all remain vulnerable and at risk of a number of different dangers – becoming victims of crime, falling into prostitution, succumbing to drug and substance abuse, child trafficking, hunger, and poverty.

If you would like to help alleviate the struggles of those on the streets, both in the UK and across the rest of the world, your donation can make a massive difference. Donate today to help take a kid off the streets and give them a chance to make a better life for themselves.

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