When you consider how affluent some of the world is, it can be hard to imagine that there is an estimated 100 million homeless people around the globe. However, according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, homelessness is still one of the biggest problems facing the world today. There are dozens of cities that have homeless people on every street corner, with the most being found in third world countries. It’s not just the third world that has a huge homeless population, however, as much of the US and Europe struggles with this issue as well. Here you will see the 7 cities that have homeless people everywhere; be warned, some of these may come as a surprise.
New York City, USA
This first one may (or may not) come as a surprise to many people, as those who think of New York tend to think of money. After all, the Big Apple is home to one of the biggest stock markets in the world and hundreds of expensive shops, restaurants and bars. Yet, according to statistics nearly 64,000 people are homeless in New York City. What’s even more daunting, is that 22,000 of those homeless people are children. The number has increased around 13% since last year, which makes New York the nation that has had the largest increase of homeless people in the last 2 years. Much of this homeless epidemic is due to the economy issues that have been facing many countries across the world. With the cost of living rising and many people unemployed, it can be difficult for everyone to keep a roof over their head. Many of those who are homeless, however, are still working and just can’t find the funds to pay rent and bills. There are, unfortunately, not enough housing assistance initiatives in New York City, to provide all of these homeless people with shelter; something which needs to change throughout much of the US.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
With Brazil being the most recent host of the FIFA World Cup, you would think that the country has plenty of money and jobs, to keep people off the streets. However, around 10,000 people are homeless in Sao Paulo and around half of the population live in informal shelter; usually abandoned buildings, makeshift shacks and hotel rooms. Whilst the World Cup stadiums were being built, 4,000 homeless families took over a private lot near the Sao Paulo stadium in order to have their voices heard. Organized by the ‘Homeless Workers’ Movement’, this group wanted to protest against how much was being spent on the World Cup and how little was being spent on homeless people. The number of people living on the streets was covered around the world, by the press, in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup which led to an influx of donations to charitable foundations working in Brazil. However, many people still live in informal shelters, that are dangerous, dirty and no place to bring up a family. Now the World Cup is over, it is time for the government to use the money they made in an effort to get these people off the streets.
What used to be a thriving city, popular with tourists and expats, has now a huge number of homeless people living on the streets. Since the economic crisis hit Greece in 2009, the number of homeless people has risen to 20,000; 9,000 of which live in Athens. The Greek government has put a lot of work into getting shelters established, along with the help of several charitable foundations, but many people are still begging and sleeping on the street. If you talk to these people, they will tell you that hosting the Olympics, in 2004, was what led to their downfall and the poverty that many now live in. However, it’s not all bad news. Several homeless people have recently been offered paid jobs as tour guides, to show tourists and travelers what life is like behind the scenes in Athens. People are shown the back streets, alleys and shelters where the homeless live, along with hearing real life stories by the tour guides. The ‘Invisible Roots’ tour costs tourists 6 Euros per person, half of which is then given to the homeless guide as payment. We think this is an incredible idea, which could be used around the world.
Much of India has been dealing with homelessness for centuries, with around 23 million people estimated to be homeless in 2003. Mumbai, the most populous city in India, has an estimated 25,000 people living on the streets right now. Despite it being the wealthiest city in India, and a popular tourist destination, there just simply isn’t enough money to keep everybody in homes. The government have tried to implement several programs in order to reduce the number of people homeless in Mumbai, but the number is still rising every day. Many of the homeless people in India live in slums, a number which has doubled in the past two decades. It used to be that Mumbai was a slum tourist destination, where people could walk around the slums and take photos with the residents. However, since the release of the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, in 2008, people have been more sensitive to the homelessness plight. Many of the people who work in Mumbai are on less than $1 per day, which puts them below the global poverty threshold. If the Indian government want to reduce homelessness then this minimum wage will need to change, for a large part of the population.
Moscow has the highest number of homeless people in Russia; a country that has around 5 million people living on the streets, a million of which are children. It is thought that up to 50,000 people are homeless in Moscow at any one time, although the government is working hard at bringing this number done. They are actually one of the only cities on our list that has seen a decrease in the number of homeless people, over the last two decades, despite the number still being rather high. Those living on the streets in Moscow are sometimes provided with shelter, whereas others are sent back to the towns they were born in. Due to the weather conditions in Russia, many homeless people will stay on their feet and keep walking, throughout the night, so as not to freeze to death. Many homeless people will find a basement or summer house where they can get some shelter, especially in the cold winters. As those living in Moscow are worried about being broken into, many will leave bottles of vodka as a gesture of goodwill and to stop the homeless from stealing anything or breaking stuff in their basement or summer house.
Los Angeles, USA
When you think of sunny L.A, what springs to mind? Is it the celebrities on every street corner? Perhaps it’s how glamorous it looks in films and on TV? What you may not realize is that Los Angeles has the second largest number of homeless people (by population), in the US. There are just under 58,000 people living on the streets of L.A, many who still have jobs and families the same as those in New York City. Skid Row is an area in Los Angeles which is thought to have the largest stable population of homeless people in the US. You will find the sidewalks lined with makeshift homes, cardboard boxes, shopping carts, tents and fires burning in the winter. However, Los Angeles also has an extremely good homeless program, which sets out to locate and provide shelter for all those living on the streets. Due to the size of the city, and the manner in which it is laid out, it can be difficult for officials to find the people who are homeless and give them the help they need. Many charities and government workers trawl the streets providing blankets and food to those living on the streets.
The city with the highest number of homeless people, in the world, is Manila in the Philippines. Around 22.8 million people in Manila live in slums, according to a report published by Homeless International. Not only that, but around 1.2 million children have to survive by begging on the streets; around 70,000 of which live in the Metro Manila area. Many homeless people try to make their money by offering goods and services to the many tourists and travelers who pass through the area; from providing foot massages to selling bottled water. However, this work does not provide them with enough money to be able to support themselves and their families, which is why so many end up living in slums, sleeping on park benches or begging on the streets. The Philippines has struggled with homelessness for some time, with the government not having enough money to be able to provide shelter and help for those who need it most. There are, however, many charitable foundations that try to do as much as they can in order to give homeless people shelter, blankets and food. With the highest rates of homelessness in the world, the people of Manila need all the help they can get.