South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Understanding Metropolitan Homelessness: A Policy and Governance Issue

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

Currently, 19 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Delhi operate 190 shelters that can accommodate around 16,500 people (0.1% of the population), about one-third of the total homeless. However, only about 5,000 people (much below capacity) use them – raising questions about their effectiveness. Concomitantly, over 3,000 homeless people died on the streets of the capital city each year between 2009 and 2014. While the emerging policy architecture in India to address homelessness is rooted in social justice principles located in the Constitution, the low utilization of shelters and high death toll of homeless people underscores a problem of governance. Governance is understood here as the level of coordination between multiple government and civil society agencies in managing shelters to ensure people on the streets access them, as promised by policy. This paper posits that the lack of consensus on defining homelessness among multiple government and civil society stakeholders undermines effective outreach to the population. This paper, therefore, examines the range of risks homeless people face to further, at times death-inducing, poverty, such as health burdens and conditions of employment in the informal sector, alongside current models of outreach managed by multiple stakeholders, including government and NGOs,  to address these problems. The objective is to devise a typology of a homelessness based on the living conditions they experience and a corresponding model of governance suited to addresses these problems that may better inform adequate policy responses to homeless people at large. 

Ashwin Purulkar

Centre for Policy Research, India

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