Taking Care of Homeless Vulnerable People

The northern states of India experience severe winter and summer weather. In winter from extreme cold and in summer from unbearable heat, hundreds of homeless people pass away.

Why is homelessness a problem?

  • Absence of records: There are no government records that list deaths brought on by homelessness. In the age of statistics, it casts doubt on the severity of the problem and exposes the complacency of the state.
  • Extreme poverty: Since the majority of homeless people are malnourished and extremely poor, homelessness is one of the worst kinds of marginalisation.
  • Having a poor health condition: Finding affordable healthcare is another challenge. In many cases, expensive conditions have an impact on mental health.
  • Violence vulnerability: In addition, these circumstances also encourage drug and alcohol use. It fosters an environment that is favourable to drug misuse. Such situations make a person more susceptible to violence, particularly in the case of women and children.

Reasons for homelessness

  • Extreme poverty,
  • Inadequate affordable housing,
  • High levels of inequality,
  • Discrimination,
  • Low wages,
  • High rents,
  • The soaring cost of living

Homelessness in India: Statistics

  • Nearly 17.7 lakh persons were estimated to be homeless in the 2011 census; however, this estimate does not include all homeless people.
  • Supreme Court Commissioners: Since censuses are held every ten years, the data is decades outdated. According to the Supreme Court’s commissioners, 37 lakh people—or 1% of the metropolitan population—are homeless.
  • In order to determine the number of urban homeless people, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs performed a third-party poll in 2019. It calculates that there are roughly 23.93 lakh homeless persons. The surge in the number of homeless people has been caused by both population growth and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Shelter for Urban Homeless (SUH)” Scheme

  • The plan aims to give homeless urban residents refuge. Under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission, SUH is a sub-scheme (DAY-NULM). The following provisions are mentioned in the scheme guidelines:
  • Permanent all-weather shelters will be accessible round-the-clock.
  • Every 1 lakh people need a permanent community centre that can accommodate at least 100 people.
  • Depending on the surroundings, each should be able to accommodate 50 to 100 people.

The problems in shelter homes

  • Entry-level obstacles: Due to regional problems such shelter location, entry fees, and the need for documentation for verification, homeless people encounter entry-level obstacles when trying to access public shelters.
  • Lack of IDs: The majority of homeless people work in the unorganised sector of the economy and lack essential identification documents like voter IDs and Aadhar cards. They become “invisible” to the city government as a result, and their voice is not heard.

Tackling the issue of homelessness

  • ULBs are responsible for: The urban local bodies are in charge of reaching out to the homeless population. Surveys must be conducted by the local government to determine the number of homeless people.
  • Decentralized funding: State governments must put the 74th Constitutional Amendment into effect in its intended manner. When it is put into practise, ULBs will have more power and be able to teach SMCs to handle local concerns and bring all shelter homes under their purview.
  • Providing benefits through ULBs: This can assist them in securing benefits and ensuring the convergence of various government programs, thereby addressing systemic problems like violence and exclusion.


If the needs of the homeless are not met, the goal of providing shelter for everyone will remain a pipe dream. In the whole housing continuum, providing shelter for the homeless is an important link. To ensure the decentralisation of government, state administrations must give municipal entities more authority.

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