NPACH: The National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem that occurs in many countries over the world, even in the most developed ones. It is true that the numbers of homeless individuals tends to be more increased in underdeveloped countries, but one should not ignore the fact that even in the most developed societies this phenomenon still occurs. The term homelessness refers to the condition of individuals without a regular dwelling. The term homeless is sometimes used to describe people who do not have a home and whom sleep on the street but it is also commonly used to refer to individuals whose primary night-time residence is a homeless shelter, a warming center or another ad hoc type of housing. The homeless are people who are not able to acquire adequate nigh-time housing or to maintain it. The legal definition of such individuals varies from a country to another but in large terms it entails a category of people who for a reason or another do not have a home and who do not have the financial prospects that will allow them to get one.

In 2005, there were about 100 million people in the world who were categorized as homeless. Statistics, although reliable might be a little out of hand in these cases because the ways in which institutions count the homeless individuals varies greatly around the world. Also, it is sometimes difficult to find all the homeless persons and count them because they do not have a place to come to and they might be traveling from a place to another. Different statistics exist however for different parts of the world and they reveal that approximately 3 million of the 100 million homeless people in the world are to be found in the European Union. In the United States, an estimation of the HUD in January 2007 concluded that there were little less than 672.000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons across the country. From these, about 125.000 had been described as chronically homeless people meaning individuals who had lost their homes for a long time. However, the same report showed that there about 82% of the homeless individuals is not chronically homeless, and that 18% are chronically from which 6% sheltered and 12% unsheltered.

Solving the problem of the homeless is quite challenging, no matter if the country where they live is developed or not. A particular challenge is the health care that needs to be provided to these individuals. In countries where there is free access to treatment and hospitals are open day and night, the problem is much less acute than in countries where treatment is not free and one needs to have insurance or to pay for it. One solution is helping these people get a job and stabilize their situation in one way or another.