Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tragic Homelessness and Solutions



 
 "Some countries that fail to provide a bed under a roof for homeless persons is not because of lack of resources; it is more likely because of a selfish heart devoid of compassion and humanity. In addition, if they prohibit feeding the homeless hungry, they may be creatures of the universe of whom even evil beings would probably be ashamed of"

While some homelessness has existed in the world from the beginning of time, two things are different in the modern era. Modern law and regulations tend to make it more persistent then it ever was in human history. In older times, with few regulations, a homeless person could gradually build up a shack on a vacant piece of land and even find land for some farming. Such land hardly exists in the modern era. The second even more distressing aspect is that it is happening in the richest countries of the world. If the unemployed son of a poor man becomes homeless it is not a surprise but when the son of one of the richest men in the world has to be homeless it is indeed tragic. The logic may be scaled up to citizens of countries. According to a recent report in Newsweek, linked towards the end of this post,

One out of every 30 children in the U.S. experienced homelessness last year. That makes nearly 2.5 million children who, in 2013, lived in shelters, on the streets, in cars, on campgrounds or doubled up with other families in tight quarters, often moving from one temporary solution to another, according to “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” a report published Monday by the the National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes for Research.
For more details of homelessness see
http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/families.html

Most tragic is the condition of those who having been knocked to the street once due to unexpected adversity become so traumatized as to become incapable of recovering without help. In the present age of nations with large debts, a currency not tied to anything solid as gold, stressed banks, financial crisis, high divorce rates, huge legal and medical costs and rising inequalities (see here) such an unexpected adversity can really fall on anyone, God forbid, even those who regard themselves as secure now. Therefore it is wise to show compassion for such distressed homeless persons rather than thinking of them as criminals and vermin as some unfortunately tend to. 

Paradoxically the problem occurs more readily in richer countries because low cost housing options are fewer and the rich have forgotten how to create a hut with just mud, thatch and bare hands, and because regulations are too tight for a shanty town to come up. While most persons in rich countries would consider it below human dignity to live in a mud and thatch dwelling or a shanty town, it must be realized that living in a public park on the street, especially on cold freezing nights is infinitely more tragic and undignified for a human. Even rats and insects manage to create a roof over their heads  for periods of rest, safety and to house their young ones.

Some early humans dug out pits in the grounds to create a dwelling while others found shelter in caves or constructed homes out of mud rubble, shrubs and thatch. A modern human too without a home might do that but modern regulations made by other humans prevent it. Therefore, it is incumbent on those who so insist and regulate so to provide the very minimum of a shared shelter for those without a home or place to live, a roof over a head to save one from rain, snow, heat and cold.. 

On the other hand, it is not also wise to go to the other extreme and start providing free homes to the homeless because then many would tend to take advantage of the freebie and not strive to create their own, thus becoming a burden on society as a whole. Moreover, providing a shelter creates easy means to clear the streets of beggars, nuisance and increased crime risks for all.

What are the solutions? The solution is obviously not to make such people go away, or starving them slowly to death by stopping their food as some local administrations tend to do. Where should they go? They cannot jump in to the ocean, can they?

The solution is also not allotting any vacant homes to them. They shall not have any means to feed themselves or maintain themselves independently. Many may have become unfit to do so.  The obvious and only solution is to provide supervised shelters. However in order to ensure that these are feasible and not misused, much thought has to be given to the issue. An economical, wise and easy shelter solution called the HISA is described in detail in another post in this blog with a link in this article.
 
HISA shelters (here) endeavor to meet the following requirements

  1. While ensuring that the shelters do not violate human dignity by providing a comfortable bed, roof and some regulated space for storage of private goods, full privacy is denied so that a person is not tempted to make a permanent home out of it.
  2. The design has been optimized from an engineering point of view so as to be the most economical and therefore affordable one
  3. The centers are regulated in a manner so that those who are children are provided education, those who are aged are provided greater comfort but the able bodied are encouraged to return to part or full time work with an income sharing mechanism and to eventually leave the center when sharing is not attractive and is instead sufficient to acquire their own private lodgings. Even the aged may be made to share their pensions and any assets they may have made to go to the center upon their demise by law rather than children who may have neglected them.

Once shelters are provided they help to clear streets of nuisance, even crime that homeless persons may get compelled into while catering to humanitarian needs of fellow humans in distress. The integrated nature of HISA centers provide a more natural environment for rehabilitation while permitting governments to consolidate their welfare budgets in a single place thus leading to savings by a sharing of facilities and services.

Get full details on design and management of HISA centers at the following link

someitemshave.blogspot.in/2013/01/designing-shelters-for-homeless_13.html



Quick Relief

Although it may appear that setting up any new system of shelters may take time, it need not be so if there is a will to provide fast relief. The residential part of HISA centers are modular army like barracks that can be constructed bit by bit at a fast pace, once the land is reserved. Constructing a few modules at a time also has the advantages that some of the labor for construction may be provided by some of the residents themselves on an income sharing basis as proposed for HISA centers. An even quicker settlement is possible by housing some of the earliest settlers in refugee like tents on the same land assigned for a HISA Center even before construction begins. Usually there is reluctance to house homeless persons in refugee type tents because no city or country wants a permanent tent colony. However, if there is a planned replacement of these with HISA barracks there should be none such.





Do also read this report:
http://www.newsweek.com/child-homelessness-us-reaches-historic-high-report-says-285052


Song of the Homeless Child


Sweet homeless child,
You break our hearts so,
You are just as sweet,
As our very own
We know you did not ask
to be brought to our world
to be thrown on the street so
Did no one care for you
Were they so cruel to you
Will someone pick you now
Do not let your tears flow
You are sweet as our very own
Hunger shall be there no more
and a roof over your head
It shall be there once more

 HISA Centers and their design is described here:

The efforts of the author to contribute towards greening the world and fight against distress and  hunger amongst the poor of the world, especially children, are continuing as evident from very many posts of this and associated blogs of the author.  He feels the pain of it deeply. To those who do not and are indifferent to the plight of the distressed it may be pointed out that in this world events beyond control can change things suddenly. It is always a good idea to keep the heart human and compassionate. One never knows when one would need that compassion badly and desperately from others since one may get out of life only what one puts into it. More of the author's philosophy on life can be found in the posts of this blog or his book - The Babaji Affair- found easily by a Google search.
 

Homeless images before modification from:



This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


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