Homelessness is a major issue in India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines ‘homeless’ as those who do not live in a regular residence due to lack of adequate housing, safety, and availability. The United Nations Economic and Social Council Statement have a broader definition for homelessness; it defines homelessness as follows: “When we are talking about housing, we are not just talking about four walls and a roof. The right to adequate housing is about the security of tenure, affordability, access to services and cultural adequacy. It is about protection from forced eviction and displacement, fighting homelessness, poverty and exclusion”.
“Enabling Inclusive Cities for the Homeless”, a project funded by EC (European Commission), focuses to build and strengthen the network of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to promote justice and inclusion of urban poor homeless communities. The objective is to strengthen and capacitate 20 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), working with the homeless communities, to become independent agents of justice and inclusion and build the foundation to lead the inclusion of Homeless in the various government schemes and mainstream homelessness in policy discourse. The CSOs engage with the Local, State and National governments for swifter, transparent and participatory implementation of the NULM – SUH (NULM- Shelters for Urban Homeless) scheme by collaborating with like-minded partners and organizations, indirectly benefiting 100,000 homeless across India. At the local level, the CSOs focus on providing legal identity to the homeless and ensure access to entitlements and schemes (financial inclusion programs) provided for by the state governments, directly impacting 20,000 homeless.
The project is different on many counts and is a first of a kind project in India which focuses on the issue of homelessness. The project is spread over 15 cities covering 5 states and aims to empower 100 Civil Society Organisations, 100 volunteers, 20 Social Change Agents and reach out to 1,00,000 homeless community. IGSSS (Indo-Global Social Service Society) and OFFER (Organization Functioning For Eytham’s Respect) are joint partners in this project.
Bihar- Patna, Muzaffarpur, Gaya
Jharkhand- Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Ranchi
Tamil Nadu– Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore
Andhra Pradesh– Vishakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur
Maharashtra- Mumbai, Pune, Nashik
The journey which started back in April 2018 has resulted in in-
- 20 homeless trained and working as SCAs on the ground on the issues of homelessness.
- 100 volunteers are trained and leading the campaign on the issues of the homeless community
- 20 CSOs has been trained and which led to the formation of 5 state-level networks in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.
- The first time National Policy for the Urban Homeless was developed which addresses the holistic issues of homeless in the country
- State Networks negotiated with the state government in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh and officially World Homeless Day was notified.
- Construction of New Shelter started
- The role and relevance of SDG 16 are included in the day to day planning.
- Guidelines for homeless death tracing mechanism has been drafted.
- Recommendations of the homeless community were adopted by political parties in their manifesto in Lok Sabha Election 2019, Maharashtra and Delhi state election 2020.