As global warming aggravates, the catastrophic climate change continues to sway experts of its predictability. Green forests are turning into deserts whereas water bodies are disappearing with the passing of time. The reality of bad weather patterns is more eminent today than hitherto ever known. Politicians and Diplomats continue to talk tough with incommensurate demonstrated commitment to cause a sustainable change to the status qua. The vulnerable homeless people are the worst affected group of persons by the snares of bad climates. Civil wars and political unrests in the Middle East, Africa and other places of the globe have displaced and exiled countless people into appalling refugee camps and many others into complete homelessness and hopelessness. Though regular, the world wakes to the surprise visitations of natural disasters like the Hurricanes, Tsunami, Earthquakes and Tornadoes which destroy life and properties and disappear with the habitats and abodes of the many homeless persons living in the streets and other unworthy circumstances. Homelessness is a global quagmire that needs a global holistic approach to solve nonetheless unevenly spread across countries.
Different people in different places react differently to climate change. To many people in the northern hemisphere for example, winter is the time to enjoy Cross Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Ski Jumping, Speed Skating, Figure Skating, Luge, Skeleton, Bobsleigh, Snowmobiling, etc. Whereas some people eagerly long for winter to frequent and patronize their favorite seasonal sports like Ice Hockey, Ice Curling and Ice Bandy, others just take romantic walk round the city and take pictures during the season. But these realities are a wishful luxury that homelessness continuous to deprive many of. The beautiful cool wind which conjoins abstemious sunshine to mark the end of autumn and launch winter, is but a reminder of dreadful days ahead for the people without decent living accommodation. They pray consistently and wallow in the expectation for mild climate conditions but gradually they realize wishes are not always horses as the accretion become unbearable with freezing rains and snow storms. The reality of crossing each cold night alive is an outstanding victory worn through miracles.
The announcement of a snow storm is usually unpleasant for many people especially if it would compel restrictions on habitual living through abeyance of transport systems, energy supply, business centers and other social amenities like schools, hospitals, worship centers, etc. For the homeless, it is more than fear; it is the summit of dread clouded by the indeterminateness of the shackles of what is to come. They observe through the rush hours as other people acquire their needs and eventually disappear into safety and the streets, alleys, kiosks, tents, gutters, highly congested shelter homes etc. become the only available refuge.
While the developed countries are investing resources to abate the accretion of homelessness, many developing countries are losing the fight against it. About 51 percent of Ghana’s urban residents were estimated to be living in slum areas in 2013 by Cities Alliance, and the situation continues to get worse as more than 150 lives perished in a flood related issue in a single rain storm in 2015. According to the UNDP in 2012, more than 80% of Mali’s population lack adequate housing whereas more than 15 million people live in slum areas in Egypt according to United Nations Habitat. The rippling effect of homelessness caused by the war in Syria, the political unrest in Ivory Coast as well as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab activities in Northern Nigeria and Eastern Africa is a living reality for many people from these regions.
The Syrian war has created a state of hopeless homelessness across the Middle East and Europe with still no unequivocal remedy in sight, thwarting strategies and structures put in place by the countries in those regions to deal with social issues such as housing the vulnerable homeless.
The United States of America has the highest number of homeless women and children among the industrialized nations with about 1.6 million children suffering homelessness each year. In 2014, Andrea Elliott of New York Times produced an article titled “Invisible Child profiling Dasani, an 11-year-old homeless child who was the oldest child in a family of 10. They lived together with their parents at the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless in New York. According to her article, there were about 280 children at that shelter which represented just a fraction of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York. This is a social dilemma common to all the states of the country. In Los Angeles for instance, 41,174 homeless persons were recorded in the “2015 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count as compared to 35,524 cases recorded in the same exercise in 2013.
In 2010, President Obama and his administration launched the Opening Doors strategy to help prevent homelessness. One of the 4 main goals of the strategy is to Prevent and end homelessness for families with children and youth in 2020. Many US based non for profit organizations such as Heartland Alliance Housing and Green Doors are investing in affordable, safe and quality housing in a spirit of bringing extrication to homeless persons.
Homelessness is a global pandemic that needs all hands on deck. It spans every society and country and continuous to derail people’s quality and decency of life and their potential to economic empowerment. Governments, Social Organizations and individuals must all jointly and severally tackle this problem to bring a lasting solution to it. It has been proven overtime that homelessness will not improve by itself without concrete community, national, regional and global agenda to mitigate and militate it. In 2005, the United Nations conducted a global survey and came out with an estimation of 100 million homeless people worldwide. But this number has jumped to 1.6 billion people lacking adequate housing in 2015 representing 1,500 percent increase over 10 years. The progression is simply staggering.
In their severe living conditions, the homeless still dream of better days. They believe in the future for themselves and their children because they hope and believe that breakthrough is on its way. They hope and believe that world leaders are brainstorming though not simple on bringing sustainable end to global warming, wars, and terror activities. They hope and believe that governments in their respective countries are putting social issues such as homelessness and poverty at the top of their agenda and working in their interest to end the suffering. They hope and believe that organizations and capable individuals are empathetic about their situation and working on technological engineering mechanisms that will bring quality free and or affordable housing. They hope and believe that foreign governments and organizations that have made some strides in attenuating homelessness in their respective countries will freely export these services to them. Most importantly, they hope and believe that their families and fellow human beings have not forgotten about them and will remember to at least smile at them, greet them, show kindness and compassion towards them on the streets rather than cruelty. It is the hope that we cannot betray because the safety of each individual on the planet is connected to that of humanity as a whole.