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Tackling homelessness

Tackling homelessness

“Catholic sisters who have worked for more than two years in getting the United Nations to address the issue of homelessness and affordable housing are hailing 10 days of meetings that resulted in an outcome document they say affirmed many of their concerns about a growing global problem”. ~ Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report 24 Feb 2020 see HERE

The 58th UN Commission for Social Development has just come to an end on 19th February 2020 after 10 days of meetings and discussion in New York. This World Summit was initiated to address emerging societal challenges to the implementation of 2030 Agenda.

The priority theme was “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all, to address homelessness”.  A  resolution  document was agreed and this will now be submitted to the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council for approval.

The document’s description of homelessness affirms a “working definition” that Sr. Jean Quinn (UNANIMA International Executive Director) along with other experts meeting in May 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, had put forth: Homelessness is “a condition where a person or household lacks habitable space with security of tenure, rights and ability to enjoy social relations, including safety.”

The final language agreed upon at this UN Social Development Commission notes that:

“[Homelessness] is not merely a lack of physical housing, but is often interrelated with poverty, lack of productive employment and access to infrastructure, as well as other social issues that may constitute a loss of family, community and a sense of belonging.”

The UN resolution document

It is no small thing to have achieved agreement on a common working definition for homelessness.  This summit and its panel discussions provided a vital  way to educate and influence policy makers at the global level and work for systemic change to achieve a more just world.

This resolution document also calls upon members of the United Nations to collect data:

“related to homelessness and establish categories of homelessness, accompanying the existing measurement tools, and encourages member states to harmonise the measurement and collection of data on homelessness to enable national and global policy-making.

While this is not an explicit call for a “global census” on homelessness, it does put the United Nations on record as saying that data at local and national levels must be better collected and that a common set of measurements should be used.

  • It is estimated that at least 150 million people have no home and that 1.6 billion people worldwide live in substandard housing — it is important that a common definition be found for homelessness and that a common set of data be used for a global response.
  • The average life expectancy of a woman in Ireland today is 84, but the average age of death for a single homeless woman in Dublin is just 38. Article in Irish Times by June Shannon on 4th March 2020

UNANIMA International research findings

UNANIMA International’s Executive Director, Sr. Jean Quinn, DW  presented their research findings indicating that women and children/girls, globally, are vulnerable to the personal and familial circumstances and to the structural/systemic causes of Family Homelessness.  On their website they state:

Homelessness/ Displacement and Trauma is an issue that must be addressed as it is integral in achieving the 2030 agenda. Significant to both the Global North and the Global South, progress in achieving the eradication of these underpin and can hinder the success and achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals. As advocates for individuals and families experiencing Homelessness and Displacement, UNANIMA International is trying to bring the voices of women and children from around the world to the global stage. ~  UNANIMA International Website

UNANIMA has now generously shared these valuable resources on informing the Eradication of Family Homelessness and Trauma.  See HERE

Also see the pdf documents below: 

WEB-SDGs-brochure Family Homelessness

WEB-Case-Studies-brochure Hidden Faces of Homelessness

Among the global participants at this Ministerial Forum was Sr. Ann Marie Quinn, International Presentation Association (Executive Director) with Dr. Despoina Afroditi Milaki who is the IPA NGO Representative at the UN, based in New York, and Sr. Mary Therese Krueger (Dubuque Pres.) the IPA Program Action Leader. Link to IPA UN Involvement

Note:  The information for this News piece was taken from all of the information links shared above.

The Global Sister’s Report (GSR) article:  “Sisters working on homelessness hail resolution from UN meetings” is part of a feature series by entitled A Place to Call Home  which “is focusing on women religious helping people who are homeless or lack adequate shelter. Over the next several months, [they] will examine how homelessness and a lack of affordable housing affect teens and young adults, families, migrants, the elderly and those displaced by natural disasters and climate change in stories from Kenya, India, Vietnam, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, the United States and elsewhere”.

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