In today’s society, attempts of individuals to buy houses or to rent them, are blocked by huge costs or job insecurity such as zero-hour contracts . In the UK it is said that the number of repossessions of houses has reduced since 2006, but the figures are regional (Canning 2014) “Northern Ireland is expected to have the UK’s highest rate of home repossession this year, according to mortgage service company HML. Greater London would experience the biggest number of repossessions in the second half of the year, at nearly 1,400”. This could be from parents with children or as a consequence of losing one’s job for example.
The number of homelessness in many countries has increased eg USA “On a single night in January 2013, 610,042 people were experiencing homelessness. From 2012 to 2013, a period of continued slow recovery from the Great Recession, overall homelessness decreased by 3.7 percent and homelessness decreased among every major subpopulation—families (7 percent), chronically homeless individuals (7.3 percent), and veterans (7.3 percent). But nationwide trends do not tell the full story” (National Alliance to End Homelessness 2014). Similar to the UK, there are regional differences regarding figures. In Denmark- where once there were no homeless people- “there was a 16 perecent total increase in recorded homelessness between 2009 and 2013 (a rise from 4,998 to 5,820)” (Denmark FEANTSA).
This figure includes people within bed and breakfast or shelter. In my local Town I see three people at 8am lying under blankets in the town centre. Some passers- by do give them a drink, food, or a chat. Local shelters are full. Some do choose to live on the streets but many homeless people are mentally ill . For example in the USA (theguardian.com 2014). In the UK (Wilson 2014) a figure is given of 30-40% of homeless people who are mentally ill. Yet in many countries there are so called “clean-ups”- in Florida, and some other states of the USA, people have been threatened with fines and jail for giving food to homeless people (Luscombe 2014), in Brazil homeless people have been shot. Recall the murder of the children in Brazil “On the night of 23 July 1993, eight young men and women died after a gang of hooded men opened fire on a group of some 50 street children sleeping on the steps of Rio de Janeiro’s Candelária church” (Amnesty 2013). RT News (2014) describes anti-Homeless cages around benches in France, and anti-homeless spikes in doorways in London. Yet in Vancouver “wooden boxes on city benches, would allow a homeless person to build a three-sided shelter out of a park bench” (ibid).
Could kind attention to homeless people be a means of returning us to care? Politicians have steered us towards blame, competition, or greed so that being homeless is considered to be one’s own fault. Yes many may have vices such as drink, or drugs, but this is fuelled by today’s society. There are many people who receive no income, even if they live in a house. Benefits are reduced or removed, if one can get them.
Could Local Authorities open empty buildings or use spare land for erecting tents or cabins, funded by businesses? Could the churches open at night? Many would volunteer to be present. Some churches do provide free meals on certain days Some charities do attend to homeless people at night, offering them company, food, a drink, or warm clothes . Could school children be encouraged to collect food and warm clothing? Many children are also homeless “More than 90,000 children in England, Scotland and Wales are without a permanent home, says Shelter (Burns 2014). In Greece (Greeknews 2013) “Nearly six thousand children in Greece live on the streets”; “The majority of the children who live on the street are from 5 to 12 years old”. Also in the Philippines (UNICEF).
Despite some attempts by some people and organizations, there needs to be a swing round in politics away from the rich elite to those in greater need of life’s essentials. The “haves” and have- nots” are created by politicians. The haves are the politicians and their friends (See the work of Martin Luther- the Protestant Work Ethic).
With acknowledgements to the many individuals and organizations who do care for the homeless such as Shelter, M25, some churches, and passers-by.
Amnesty (2013) Brazil: Police Still Have Blood on Their Hands 20 Years On From Massacre https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/brazil-police-still-have-blood-their-hands-20-years-massacre-2013-07-24
Burns J (2014) Homeless Children at ‘Highest Level since 2011” 3.11 bbc.co.uk
Canning M (2014) Repossession Rate For Homes in Northern Ireland is Highest in the UK 15.8 belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Denmark FEANTSA (2013)
Luscombe R (2014) 90-year-pld Among Florida Activists for feeding the Homeless http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/05/fort-lauderdale-pastors-arnold-abbott-arrested-feeding-homeless
National Alliance to End Homelessness (2014 ) 27.5 http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2014
RTNews (2014) Anti-Homeless Cages Installed Around Benches in France on Christmas Eve http://rt.com/news/217679-france-homeless-bench-cages/ 25.12
Wilson W (2014) Rough Sleeping England 4.4
c Carol Dimon 2015