- Homelessness or houselessness is the condition of lacking stable, safe, and adequate housing.
- Some of the reasons for homelessness are Extreme poverty, Inadequate affordable housing, High levels of inequality, Discrimination, Low wages, High rents, The soaring cost of living, etc.
- The 2011 census estimated Nearly 17.7 lakhs people as houseless, however, the census fails to capture the entire homeless population.
Challenges in addressing homelessness:
- Lack of record: There is an absence of official records enumerating deaths due to homelessness. It undermines the scale of the crisis in the era of statistics and showcases states apathy.
- Extreme poverty: Homelessness is one of the worst forms of marginalisation as most homeless individuals suffer from malnutrition and extreme poverty.
- Poor health condition: Access to healthcare facilities and their affordability is also a hurdle. Exorbitant conditions affect mental health in many cases.
- Vulnerability to violence: Moreover, these conditions also give rise to drug and alcohol consumption. It creates a conducive situation for substance abuse. Such circumstances increase an individual’s vulnerability to violence, especially in the case of women and children.
- Social castigation: Stigmatisation and social marginalisation compound their precarious situation. In a nutshell, homelessness strips a person from all human rights.
Addressing the issue of homelessness
- Responsibility of ULBs: The responsibility of accessing the homeless population rests with the urban local bodies. Local authorities need to conduct surveys to assess the homeless population.
- Decentralisation of funds: State governments must implement the 74th Constitutional Amendment in its true spirit. Its implementation will empower ULBs, which can then bring all the shelter homes under the ambit of SMCs and train them to manage local issues.
- Ensuring the benefits through ULBs: It can help them to secure benefits and guarantee the convergence of various government schemes, thus also addressing deep-rooted issues like violence and exclusion.
The Shelter for Urban Homeless (SUH) scheme seeks to provide shelter to the urban poor. SUH is a sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).