Homelessness is not an inevitability

Perhaps it is the freezing weather outside, or maybe it is the nasty measures that the Coalition Government is taking to tackle the economic downturn like capping benefits at 1% rise which has brought homelessness to my attention. While the United Kingdom may be far less entrenched in problems relating to homelessness, it nevertheless faces severe difficulties. In 2011 48,510 households were accepted as homeless by local authorities. That figure has jumped by 14% due to the rise in unemployment.  That number is very small however, compared to statistics from other parts of the world. In Russia for example there are 5 million homeless people. By 2015 there will be an estimated homeless population of 24.4 million people. Overall an estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide.

That is a staggering number and sometimes it is unbelievable to think that despite all the technological and medical advancements humanity has achieved, we are still unable to provide basic housing for individuals. Homelessness is not a new phenomenon, far from it. Homelessness has existed since humans started building houses for themselves and whilst overall homelessness worldwide has been falling, it has been impossible to quash this unfortunate occurrence once and for all.

While a number of reasons can be given for while homelessness prevails, the most common and obvious one is the lack of housing. England is suffering massive housing crises. Against a background of mounting debt across the country, huge numbers of homeowners are having their homes repossessed, because they are no longer able to keep up with their mortgage repayments. Families renting privately on low incomes have to put up with poor living conditions and little security. Just like with any problems, solutions are always available. The clearest resolution to the lack of housing is to build more houses. Whilst this answer is extremely clear, an apparent drawback arises- a lack of money to build cheap and affordable accommodation. Or at least that is what we are told by our governments. However, this is where my quarrel begins. Politicians can find the money if they search in the right place and stop wasting millions on issues which bring no obvious advantage to the society. Take Russia for example. As already mentioned, there are 5 million homeless people there and yet the Russian government has pledged to spend billions to build bases on the moon. We as a humanity cannot house our own species here on Earth and yet we seem more than willing to start building bases in space. Whilst space exploration is an important aspect of human progression of knowledge, providing homes for people should be a higher priority. In the United Kingdom, the government spends 62.7 billion pounds per year on the military, while all nations put together spend around 1.7 trillion dollars. It is an unfortunate reality that governments around the world would rather spend their money on increasing their security (usually against a non-existent threat) than to provide housing for their citizens (one of the main reasons the state exists in the first place).

Having a home is the third most important aspect of survival after clean water and food. Sadly none of these three have yet found a way to reach all mankind. Whilst lack of clean water and lack of food can be attributed to lack of resources and dire environmental situation, there are no excuses for not providing cheap accommodation for the homeless. As the winter gets colder each night, it is almost surreal to think that somewhere out there a person is suffering and most likely slowly dying while the rest of us enjoy the many luxuries that have cost millions of pounds to create. More must be done to lobby and pressure respective governments to take stronger action in tackling homelessness.  Life can throw many nasty surprises and one day that person sleeping on a park bench could be me or you.

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Categories: International politics

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