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Faces of Homelessness in the Asia Pacific
Across the Asia Pacific, there are a vast range of experiences of homelessness and an equally diverse range of responses from state systems. Since understandings of homelessness are also heavily dependent on geographical, cultural, and historical contexts, attitudes towards it as a ‘social problem’ are essentially underpinned by ideological considerations. With a particular focus on critical and international policy and practice, this book builds upon the current scholarship of homelessness across the Asia Pacific. Through examining and comparing a range of state responses, it explores the differing definitions and lived experiences of the issue in a number of countries, including Japan, China, India, Korea, and Australia. The book analyzes a range of key themes from welfare provision and legislation to the services provided and the roles played by non-governmental organizations, whilst also recognizing the effects of class, gender and ethnicity on homelessness in the region. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Faces of Homelessness in the Asia Pacific will be useful to students and scholars of Social Policy, Urban Sociology, Psychology and Asian Studies. Carole Zufferey is a senior lecturer in Social Work at the University of South Australia. Her work includes the recent publication Homelessness and Social Work: An Intersectional Approach (Routledge, 2017). Nilan Yu is a lecturer in Social Work at the University of South Australia. He is co-editor of Subversive Action: Extralegal Practices for Social Justice (2015).
Routledge Contemporary Asia Series For the full list of books: www.routledge.com/Routledge-Contemporary-AsiaSeries/book-series/SE0794
53 Asia Struggles with Democracy Evidence from Indonesia, Korea and Thailand Giovanna Maria Dora Dore 54 China-Malaysia Relations and Foreign Policy Razak Abdullah 55 Politics of the ‘Other’ in India and China Western Concepts in Non-Western Contexts Edited by Lion König and Bidisha Chaudhuri 56 China – India Relations Cooperation and Conflict Edited by Kanti Bajpai, Huang Jing and Kishore Mahbubani 57 New Regional Geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Drivers, Dynamics and Consequences Edited by Priya Chacko 58 Energy Security in Asia and Eurasia Edited by Mike M. Mochizuki and Deepa M. Ollapally 59 Populist Threats and Democracy’s Fate in Southeast Asia Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia William Case 60 Energy Transition in East Asia A Social Science Perspective Edited by Kuei-Tien Chou 61 Faces of Homelessness in the Asia Pacific Edited by Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
Faces of Homelessness in the Asia Pacific
Edited by Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
First published 2018 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2018 selection and editorial matter, Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-20192-7 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-47525-7 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Apex CoVantage, LLC
List of tables List of figures Acknowledgments List of contributors 1 The many faces of homelessness: a critical introduction
vii viii ix x 1
C A R O L E Z U F F E RE Y AND NI L AN YU
2 Homelessness and homeless policies in the context of the residual Japanese welfare state
J O H A N N E S K I E NE R AND TOS HI O MI Z UUCHI
3 Homelessness in China
D E L L A Q I U A N D CAROL E Z UF F E RE Y
4 Living homeless in urban India: state and societal responses
K A L PA N A G O E L AND RI CHA CHOWDHARY
5 Children’s homelessness in Sri Lanka
E S H A N T H A A R I YADAS A, HE L E N M C L ARE N, AND J A N E T M C I N T Y RE - MI L L S
6 Homelessness in Korea: lived experience and policy issues
S O Y O U N G K I M AND YONG- CHANG HE O
7 Homelessness in Hong Kong: the evolution of official homeless assistance and the context of housing G E E R H A R D T K ORNATOWS KI AND HUNG WONG
8 A unique sustainable livelihoods strategy: how resilient homeless families survive on the streets of Metro Manila, Philippines
J U S T I N N I C O L AS AND ME L GRAY
9 Homelessness in Australia
C H R I S H O R SE L L AND CAROL E Z UF F E RE Y
10 A portrait of homelessness in the Asia Pacific
C A R O L E Z U F F E RE Y AND NI L AN YU
6.1 6.2 6.3 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 9.1
The number of homeless people in Korea (2010–2014) The age and gender profile of homeless people (2011) The roles of facilities in the 2011 Act Chronological overview of events in homeless services Summary of substandard private rental apartments (as of 2011) Different group of homeless persons in Hong Kong, 2013 & 2015 Type of accommodation before street sleeping Reasons for becoming homeless (multiple responses) Aoki’s (2013) distinction between slum and street dwellers Different kinds of homeless families Summary status of MCCT-HSF beneficiaries Package of services for homeless street families Definitions of homelessness
81 81 86 94 99 104 106 107 114 115 120 123 136
2.1 2.2 6.1 7.1
Number of homeless people in Japan (2003–2016) Welfare rate and welfare recipients in post-war Japan New categories of homeless facilities Number of street sleepers in the Street Sleeper Registry between 2000 and 2015 7.2 Categories of homeless persons found in H.O.P.E. Hong Kong 2015 7.3 Duration of homelessness in 2013 and 2015
15 20 85 103 104 105
We would like to acknowledge Associate Professor Adrian Vicary who supervised both of our theses at the University of South Australia. He contributed to the broadening of our thinking and scholarship particularly in the areas of critical social work and social policy. We thank him for his mentorship and friendship over the years. This book would not be possible without our contributors who collaborated with international colleagues and generously invested their time in sharing their knowledge about this important global issue. We would like to thank them all. In particular, we would like to thank Professor Toshio Mizuuchi (Osaka City University) who, apart from co-authoring a chapter in this book, introduced us to other contributors and colleagues researching homelessness in the region. We wish to dedicate this book to past, current and future critical scholars and practitioners working in homelessness in the Asia Pacific region and across the world.
Eshantha Ariyadasa completed his PhD at Flinders University, South Australia. Through his research, he created policy proposals which addressed the issues of children’s rights and their needs within children’s homes in Sri Lanka. He pioneered the Sputnik International Organization to promote world peace through languages, sports and cultural education. He is the founder of Sputnik Girls’ Children’s Home which won the provincial level best practice award in Sri Lanka. He participated in the 57th and 59th World Conferences of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in Vietnam (Haiphong – 2013) and Germany (Berlin – 2015). Richa Chowdhary is Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, B.R.A. College, University of Delhi, India. She has been teaching undergraduate social work students for the past twenty years in the University of Delhi. Her research areas are mental health, social psychology, drug and alcohol issues, aging, and homeless children. She has published five text books in both Hindi and English language in the field of social psychology, psychology and psychological process, group work, drug and alcohol abuse, and methods of social work. She has authored several book chapters and articles in national journals in India. She is an active member of various social service organizations and is working on a project for Pedestrian Safety. Kalpana Goel is a lecturer in the School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia. She completed her PhD and taught in the University of Delhi for several years. Her research areas include community development, migration, gender issues, and ageing. Her recent scholarly work includes an edited book on ‘Community work: Theories, practices and challenges’ published by Niruta Publications, Bangalore, India. She is member of Refugee and Migration Research Network, Centre for Rural Health and Community Development, Indian Association of Psychiatric Social Workers and National Association of Professional Social Workers, India. Mel Gray is Professor of Social Work in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She has an extensive, highly acclaimed research and publication profile focused on issues related to social work practice, including knowledge production, research, theory, ethics, and
philosophy. Her recent books include Environmental Social Work (with Coates and Hetherington, Routledge, 2013), Social Work Theories and Methods (2nd ed., with Webb, 2013), Decolonizing Social Work (2013), The New Politics of Social Work (with Webb, 2013), and the Sage Handbook of Social Work (with Midgley & Webb, 2012). Yong-Chang Heo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Welfare at Keimyung University, Korea. He received a PhD from the University of York with a thesis on a comparative study of housing in Korea and Singapore. He published articles in prominent Korean journals and a peer-reviewed international journal, Housing, Theory and Society. His main research concerns are comparative housing policy, theoretical discourses on housing and the welfare state, and housing poverty. Chris Horsell is a trained social worker who spent a decade working in areas of the homelessness, mental health and community development in South Australia. He completed his PhD on the topic of social inclusion and homelessness. He is currently a tutor in social policy, politics and human service delivery at the University of South Australia and Chief Project Officer working in the area of disability policy. He has published in the area of social exclusion, homelessness, and emotions and social policy. Johannes Kiener is a research fellow at Osaka City University Urban Research Plaza, Osaka, Japan. As a PhD student, he received training in human geography at Osaka City University. Currently he is working on inner-city revitalization, focusing on the adaptation of decrepit buildings, for public assistance recipients, artists and retail, and their role in the process of place formation. He has published articles about homeless self-dependency support as well as articles on gentrification and inner-city revitalization. Soyoung Kim is a researcher at the Center for Social Sciences in Seoul National University, Korea. She received a PhD of Social Welfare from Seoul National University. Her dissertation looked into pathways to homelessness and experiences among young male adults in Korea. During her doctoral course, she participated in interdisciplinary research on homelessness life history and did a comparative study of homelessness between Korea and Japan supported by Japan-Korea Culture Exchange Foundation. Her research themes are housing centered homeless policy for various homeless population, localization and welfare system for vulnerable people. Geerhardt Kornatowski holds a PhD in human geography and is an Assistant Professor at the Osaka City University Urban Research Plaza, Osaka, Japan. His work focuses on housing and welfare issues in East Asia’s advanced economies with a particular interest in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Osaka. He has published extensively in this area. Janet McIntyre-Mills is an Associate Professor at Flinders University, Australia, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Indonesia and Islamic National
Contributors University in Indonesia, and Honorary Professor at the University of South Africa. Her research focuses on systemic representation, accountability and regeneration applied to social and environmental justice concerns such as health, housing and social inclusion and the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. She addresses complex needs by exploring the meanings and ‘what if’ questions with diverse stakeholders. Her books include: Global Citizenship and Social Movements (Routledge); Critical Systemic Praxis for Social and Environmental Justice; User-Centric Design to Address Complex Needs; Transformation from Wall Street to Wellbeing: Joining Up the Dots Through Participatory Democracy and Governance to Mitigate the Causes and Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change and Systemic Ethics and Non-Anthropocentric Stewardship: Implications for Trans Disciplinarity and Cosmopolitan Politics.
Helen McLaren is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social & Policy Studies, Flinders University, Australia. She is specializing in teaching and research related to children, family, policy and systemic intervention. Her practice and research expertise are in gender and development, violence against women, child welfare, welfare system reform, and distributive governance. Having been a visiting research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, and at Universitas Padjadjaran, West Java, Indonesia, her gender and development focused research now extends from Australia to nations bordering the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Toshio Mizuuchi is a Professor of Geography at Urban Research Plaza, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan. He leads numerous research projects on homelessness in East Asian Cities such as Seoul, Hong Kong, and Taipei. He is a highly published and well-known scholar for his work in the area of homelessness in Japan. He was guest editor for the City, Culture and Society journal for the special issue on ‘Housing poverty, homelessness and the transformation of urban governance in East Asian Cities’ in 2010. Justin Nicolas is a registered social worker from the Philippines and an Assistant Professor at the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), University of the Philippines. He is presently pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle, Australia, focusing on the articulating creativity in social work. His engagement with the homeless and urban poor include assisting in the evaluation of livelihood assistance programs for urban poor older people in Metro Manila and organizing of homeless women. Della Qiu holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Australia and a Bachelor of Law from Shanghai University, China. She is a qualified social worker in China and had over seven years of experience working in Shanghai’s local residents’ committee before commencing her social work studies in Australia. As part of her social work degree, she collaborated with Dr. Carole Zufferey in examining policy, service responses, and lived experiences of homelessness in China.
Hung Wong is an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work and director at the Centre for Quality of Life of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shatin, Hong Kong). His work focuses on poverty, social security, and community work in Hong Kong and China. He was commissioned by the Social Welfare Department of the HKSAR Government to undertake the evaluation of the street sleeper service in 2001. He is a highly published researcher in the field of homelessness in Hong Kong. Nilan Yu is a lecturer in Social Work at the University of South Australia. He is co-editor of Subversive Action: Extralegal Practices for Social Justice (2015). Carole Zufferey is a senior lecturer in Social Work at the University of South Australia. Her work includes the recent publication Homelessness and Social Work: An Intersectional Approach (Routledge, 2017).
The many faces of homelessness A critical introduction Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
Introduction The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25) states that everyone has the right to a standard of living that is adequate for their health and wellbeing, including access to food, clothing, housing, and medical care. However, nearly seven decades since the international community declared housing as a universal right, the lack of adequate shelter affects the lives of hundreds of millions across the globe. There is a diverse range of experiences of homelessness and an equally varied array of responses to homelessness from state systems around the world. This book features critical accounts of lived experiences and state responses to homelessness in selected countries in the Asia Pacific. It is intended for practitioners, students, educators, and researchers engaged with the issue of homelessness. Our aim is to enable readers to gain a broad understanding of what it means to be homeless in this corner of the globe. While the readers of this book will be unlikely to ever really ‘know’ and experience homelessness, we hope that this book will give them a general understanding of what it means to be homeless and how homelessness is regarded in these different countries in the region. The chapters in the book transport readers from one country to another, illustrating the sometimes subtle but more often stark differences in the definitions and lived experiences of homelessness. We felt the need for this book upon realizing that our understandings of homelessness are very much circumscribed by our situatedness, heavily dependent on geographical, cultural, and historical contexts in which we find ourselves, and from which we draw meanings. We have separately researched homelessness in different countries and contexts, predominantly in the Philippines and in Australia. Our conversations highlighted diverging experiences and perspectives, which gave us the impetus for this book. For example, while the Australian conception of homelessness, as occurring along a continuum of being roofless and houseless to experiencing insecure and inadequate housing (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012) applies to the Philippines, there are distinctive disparities in terms of what constitutes insecure and inadequate housing and the responses that one would expect from state mechanisms. In Australia, relatively generous state supports are in place, which stand in stark contrast with the visceral images of homelessness that can be found in countries like India and the Philippines. We argue that faces of
Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
homelessness are shaped by changing global and local contexts, and by intersecting social inequalities, coupled with the highly residual welfare systems of some countries in the region.
Homelessness in the Asia Pacific This book features sketches of the different faces of homelessness in the Asia Pacific. By ‘faces of homelessness’ we mean the scale, the lived experience, and constructions of homelessness as manifested in state responses to the issue. Asia and the Pacific is home to 4.3 billion people – 60% of the world’s population (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [UNESCAP], 2014). The region has emerged as the growth engine of the world economy, accounting for almost 40%of the world’s output and two-thirds of global growth in 2014 (International Monetary Fund, 2015). These figures speak of the significance of the Asia Pacific region in what has become a globalized world. However, although the incidences of extreme poverty have fallen, poverty is a persistent issue in the Asia Pacific region plagued by rising inequality (UNESCAP, 2014). When considering homeless numbers, it is impossible to determine an overall figure for the Asia Pacific region given the differences in definitions of homelessness and the absence of reliable data from some countries. However, in the context of a region with over 4 billion people, the scale and prevalence of homelessness in some countries is simply unimaginable. The term ‘Asia Pacific’ varies in use. Very broad applications such as in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum can include Russia, the US, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. The more typical use of the term which includes East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania was employed in this book. Faced with a list of a couple of dozen countries, we aimed to focus on the top countries in the region in terms of gross domestic product, which included China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and New Zealand, as well as Vietnam given the size of their population and economy. However, we encountered great difficulty in seeking appropriate contributors for all these countries in the face of very limited scholarship on homelessness. This may partly be because in some of these countries, such as in Vietnam and Singapore, being homeless is considered illegal. The very notion of state support for homelessness can be unfathomable in countries where such a condition is not supposed to exist or, more so, where it is regarded as unlawful. The final contributions to this book from Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia, present original research by well-respected authors and provide detailed accounts of the faces of homelessness in these respective countries.
Critical conceptualization of homelessness As the editors of this book, we take a position that how we define and conceptualize social issues shapes how we respond to them. That is, the positions we take on an issue, to a significant extent, evinces how we represent and conceptualize them. However, responses to homelessness can be contested, with disputed and clashing policy
The many faces of homelessness
directions. Building on previous work by Zufferey (2017) on intersectionality, social work, and homelessness, we argue that experiences of homelessness exist within intersecting unequal power relations. Social inequalities are perpetuated by the discourses and politics of different welfare states, which have material effects on people in different social positions (Bacchi, 2009). We make mention of homelessness as a ‘social issue’ (rather than as a ‘problem’) because as evident in the chapters in this book, constructions of homelessness differ across countries. Whilst homelessness can be seen by some countries as a ‘social problem’, it can be conceptualized by others as anything but a problem. The different perspectives in the chapters of this book are important contributions to the study of the faces of homelessness in the region. The diversity of circumstances and contexts that are defined as homelessness varies considerably across countries (Tipple & Speak, 2009), as does the way homeless populations are counted. The experiences of homelessness in different countries in the Asia Pacific intersect with poverty, urban/rural contexts, class/caste divisions, disabilities, age, gender, and others social categories. Multiple social conditions constitute the lived experiences of homelessness differently, across all countries. The research and perspectives of the contributing authors in this book are potentially politically influential. The advocacy of researchers sits alongside the influences of the media and other policy discourses, to contribute to critically examining the responses of the state and civil society. However, state responses often fail to holistically respond to the most disadvantaged in society. This book promotes the human rights and social justice for people affected by homelessness, which is consistent with structural and intersectional theorizing about homelessness (see Zufferey, 2017), as well as the ethics of social work. Our interest in homelessness is informed by a critical conception of our discipline, which is social work. As you will note, not all the chapter authors are from the discipline, although, most of the contributors are social workers. We hoped to draw together collaborative accounts of state responses and lived experiences of homelessness from different academics who have studied the issue. Then, we have summarized these in the concluding chapter, from our own critical social work perspective.
Social work accounts of homelessness The International Federation of Social Workers (2014) defines social work as ‘a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people’. How this definition is carried out in practice varies significantly between and within countries. The individual-structural debate in social work has been raging for over a hundred years (Haynes,1998; Mullaly, 2007). These contested perspectives also influence conceptualizations of homelessness and social work in countries across the Asia Pacific region. On one side of the debate is a highly individualist conception of social issues such as homelessness, drawing attention to individual people’s values, attitudes, behaviours, ways of thinking, lifestyles, and life choices. This perspective locates ‘problems’ within individuals and their failure to lead ‘decent’ lives, which include the inability to obtain or sustain gainful employment, the lack of capacity to
Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
look after themselves and/or those dependent on them for care. These people then become the subjects of so-called ‘helping interventions’ that are aimed at adjusting their cognitive and social behaviours, so that they can act appropriately, manage social expectations and cope with societal demands. The intervention goals are couched in terms of enabling them to help themselves, achieve self-reliance and become active, contributing members of society. The notion of self-reliance is a common welfare discourse across the world. It has been criticized in western literature for promoting individualist discourses that position responsibility for change within the individual, despite local and global contexts with considerable structural, social, economic, political, and geographical inequalities (Hebert & Mincyte, 2014). A critical, structural conception of social issues such as homelessness sees them at the scale of human societies. Thus, understandings of homelessness are envisaged through the ways human societies are organized and structured, and how power and resources are distributed in relationships between various groupings in society. A critical conception of social work recognizes that many of the issues manifested in the lives of people arise from intersecting structural inequalities and disadvantages. Western, critical approaches to homelessness highlight structural and individual causes, solutions, and pathways for entering and exiting homelessness (Hutson & Clapham, 1999; Pleace, 2000; Clapham, 2005; Johnson, Gronda & Coutts, 2008; Pleace & Quilgars, 2003; Chamberlain, Johnson, & Robinson, 2014). British social policy author Pleace (2000) argues that there is a ‘new orthodoxy’ in homelessness literature that combines structural/individual explanations of homelessness. That is, structural factors, such as economic inequalities, poverty, unemployment, and lack of affordable housing, can create the conditions within which homelessness occurs. However, some individuals are more vulnerable to the effects of these adverse social and economic conditions than others, which explains why more people with ‘high support needs’ experience homelessness (Pleace, 2000). We take the position that homelessness is a structural issue, but with individual effects. State policies are economically driven but have lived effects, as vividly outlined in the experiences of homelessness presented in this book. A critical and intersectional social work approach draws attention towards social exclusion, discrimination, and disadvantages that intersect with class, gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and other social positions (Zufferey, 2017). It acknowledges that some social systems such as central state laws, administrative regulations, and welfare policies can generate poverty, homelessness, and destitution, which are experienced by some members of society more than others. This approach targets the state, society and societal structures, with the aims to eliminate structural inequality and social disadvantage. In this book, we highlight the need for social change drawing on principles of social justice, human rights, and collective responsibility that are central to social work (Ife, 2012; Mullaly, 2007). While we see homelessness as structurally rooted, we recognize that this perspective does not always reflect dominant ideologies and ways of thinking. The sketches of the faces of homelessness in this book pay attention to the definitions and perceptions informing conceptualizations of the issue in different state responses. We are interested in discerning the ideological frameworks underpinning state policy and
The many faces of homelessness
action, in relation to lived effects and experiences of homelessness. Consistent with critical sociologists such as Marx and Weber, we recognize that the state is not neutral; it has political and economic power and authority. The responses of the state are integral to defining and shaping the social issues. Thus, structural and social inequalities are reflected in and shape state policies and practice responses to homelessness.
About the chapters The chapters of this edited book are collaborative efforts between different authors, in different countries and from different disciplinary backgrounds. Each chapter examines homelessness in one country and analyzes state responses to the issue, including policy definitions, welfare provision, legislation, services, practices, and lived experiences of homelessness. This book contributes knowledge in the field of homelessness by offering insights into the different forms of homelessness, as well as conceptions of homelessness in state policies and responses across the Asia Pacific region. Each chapter aims to: 1 2 3 4
Outline definitions of homelessness in selected countries in the Asia Pacific; Describe the lived experiences of homelessness in this diverse range of countries; Examine selected government and nongovernment responses to homelessness, highlighting mainstream and innovative policies, programs, and practices; Critically analyze state responses to homelessness based on understandings of the issue that recognize the role of unequal social relations associated with class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, or other social categories.
Not all of these aims are covered in equal depth in each of the chapters. Some aspects are stronger than others in different chapters, depending on the interests and perspectives of the authors. As well, the representations of homelessness reflect current discourses in each country and are necessarily incomplete. An allencompassing account of the lived realities of homelessness is simply impossible, given the myriad of lives it touches, even within countries and cities. In Chapter 2 on homelessness in Japan, geographers Johannes Kiener and Toshio Mizuuchi highlight residual welfare policy and connections between changes to the ‘day labor’ market and homelessness. Covering different responses in three Japanese cities – Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka – they trace state responses and social issues contributing to homelessness over time starting from the World War II. These issues include increasing unemployment and limited welfare assistance in the context of economic, industrial, and social changes. They note that disability, illness, and old age for people living ‘single male lifestyles’ can often lead to chronic homelessness. They also emphasize the changing homelessness demographics in Japan, including people who are educated, married, and previously housed. They argue that the expansion of the scope of welfare benefits has had a profound impact on decreasing visible homelessness in Japan.
Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
The third chapter by social workers Della Qiu and Carole Zufferey, examines homelessness in China and the work of so-called government Aid Stations. The chapter covers the lived experiences of older people, young people, people with disabilities, families, women and children, and the rural to urban population drifters, the so-called ‘floating population’. The term ‘homelessness’ is not often used in China and has not attracted much political attention. Government responses involve the rescuing and criminalization of homelessness, in the context of responses to ‘vagrants and beggars’ without legal documentation, fixed dwellings, and stable incomes. There has been increasing involvement of non-governmental organizations but they tend to refer people to government services. The Aid Stations have experienced a rapid rise in demand but can only provide temporary assistance, with the goal of sending people back home. Whilst rescue models of state intervention tend to focus on individual and personal issues, social work advocacy has been slowly influencing the changing responses to homelessness in China. Chapter 4, the chapter on India written by social workers Kalpana Goel and Richa Chowdhary, focuses on urban homelessness in Delhi. It vividly describes lived experiences of the destitute street homeless and discusses definitions, causations, meanings, and social values, arguing for citizenship rights to housing support and social welfare. The research conducted by the authors gathered the perspectives of six homeless men and women who were ‘rescued’ on the streets of Delhi by the volunteers of a civil society organization working with homeless people. The chapter discusses people’s experiences of becoming homeless, living on the streets, and living in the homeless shelter. The politicization of homelessness in India is examined by exploring themes in the literature that highlight how homelessness is conceptualized, the denial of the rights of citizens, the criminalization of the homeless as beggars, the lack of access to appropriate shelters and affordable housing, and the continual displacement of people living on the streets by government officials. The chapter explores gendered and classed (or caste) issues that are particular to India, such as dowry expectations contributing to family and domestic violence, and the abandonment of women and children by their families. Written by a multidisciplinary team of authors, namely Eshantha Ariyadasa, Helen McLaren and Janet McIntyre-Mills, Chapter 5 focuses on children’s homelessness in government institutions and the conditions of voluntary children’s homes in Sri Lanka. Whilst the aims of these services are to meet basic needs such as access to water, food, shelter, sleep, and education, some of these homes do not have enough beds, cupboard, running water, books; some children do not attend school or have access to a doctor. This chapter reports on the perspectives of children, service providers, and policymakers. The authors advocate for a change in politics about the rights of children in Sri Lanka and in developing and implementing standards to improve the conditions in children’s homes. Chapter 6, the chapter on homelessness in Korea written by Soyoung Kim and Yong-Chang Heo, examines experiences and welfare responses to urban homelessness in Seoul. It discusses unemployment in the context of the economic crisis, highlighting their research on men’s experiences of homelessness. Whilst they mention new forms of homelessness experienced by women, young people, and
The many faces of homelessness
the elderly, this is not the focus of the chapter. The Republic of Korea has been struggling with increased homelessness over the last two decades, since the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) in the late 1990s. Visible homelessness was particularly evident in several districts near central station in Seoul. Suggestions for change include developing community-based alternatives, job creation programs to obtain and maintain long-term employment, and revisiting a sustainable system to finance homeless programs and facilities. A multidisciplinary and cross-country collaboration by Geerhardt Kornatowski and Hung Wong in Chapter 7 looks at homelessness in Hong Kong. The chapter provides a historical account of state responses to homelessness, the development of homelessness assistance services and housing policies in the urban context. Similar to Korea and Japan, they note that the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s contributed to homelessness becoming a visible social issue that required government intervention. They offer an in-depth analysis of the housing situation of people who have exited homelessness and examine definitional aspects and the enumeration of homelessness in the current Hong Kong policy context. Chapter 8, written by social workers Justin Nicolas and Mel Gray, examines in detail homelessness in Metro Manila, Philippines and the most recent state policy response, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF). It provides two cases of family beneficiaries. Whilst the Philippines does not have a dedicated policy on homelessness, it is dealt with in terms of existing housing and welfare policy. The MCCT-HSF offers clear definitions of homeless families and distinguishes between different kinds of street families: families on the street, families of the street, homeless street families, and community-based street families. The authors argue that urban development is placed ahead of housing for the homeless, in the context of the minimalist state welfare safety net. The final edited chapter on homelessness by social workers Chris Horsell and Carole Zufferey in Chapter 9 deconstructs policy discourses and definitional debates in Australia. While the numbers and visibility of homeless people is not as stark as other countries in the Asia Pacific region, there is growing inequalities and increasing disparity between the rich and poor. The authors note that, while the official definition of homelessness is broad, service responses can be exclusionary, with dire consequences. The chapter posits that participatory and co-research ideas can be a way forward to develop more inclusive responses to homelessness in Australia. The concluding chapter (Chapter 10) represents our attempt to critically analyze conceptualizations and representations of homelessness embodied in the lived experiences of and state responses to homelessness, as outlined in the different chapters. In doing so, we draw attention to the intricate intersections of structural inequality and disadvantage that produce and sustain homelessness. We point out similarities and differences in the different state policy responses to the issue and how these potentially shape lived experiences of homelessness. These detailed chapters from different countries offer a unique and in-depth insight into the lived experiences of homelessness in the Asia Pacific region. The chapters provide in-depth insights into the complexities of current responses to and experiences of homelessness in Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong,
Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
the Philippines, and Australia. This is the first book that collates how these different countries and states define and respond to homelessness and, subsequently, experiences of homelessness. We hope that these chapters are enlightening and offer useful suggestions for improving responses to homelessness, in the localized contexts of each country. By bringing together a diverse group of authors from a range of countries and disciplines, this book contributes to scholarship and research to further understand the many faces of homelessness in the Asia Pacific.
References Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2012). A Statistical definition of homelessness. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Bacchi, C. (2009). Analysing policy: What’s the problem represented to be? Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson. Chamberlain, C., Johnson, G. & Robinson, C. (2014). (Eds.). Homelessness in Australia: An introduction. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. Clapham, D. (2005). The meaning of housing. Bristol, UK: Polity Press. Haynes, K.S. (1998). The one hundred-year debate: Social reform versus individual treatment. Social Work, 43(6), 501–509. Hebert, K., & Mincyte, D. (2014). Self-Reliance beyond neoliberalism: Rethinking autonomy at the edges of empire. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 32(2), 206−222. Hutson, S. & Clapham, D. (1999). (Eds.). Homelessness: Public policies and private troubles. London: Cassell. Ife, J. (2012). Human rights and social work: Towards rights-based practice (3rd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. International Federation of Social Workers. (2014, August 6). Global definition of social work. Retrieved from http://ifsw.org/policies/definition-of-social-work/ International Monetary Fund. (2015). Stabilizing and outperforming other regions. In Regional economic outlook: Asia and Pacific. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund. Johnson, G., Gronda, H. & Coutts, S. (2008). On the outside: Pathways in and out of homelessness. Melbourne, Victoria: Australian Scholarly Publishing. Mullaly, B. (2007). The new structural social work: Ideology, theory, practice (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Pleace, N. (2000). The new consensus, the old consensus and the provision of services for people sleeping rough. Housing Studies, 15(4), 581–594. Pleace, N. & Quilgars, D. (2003). Led rather than leading? Research on homelessness in Britain, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 13, 187–196. Tipple, G. & Speak, S. (2009). The hidden millions: Homelessness in developing countries. London, UK: Routledge. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. (2014). Statistical yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2014. New York: United Nations. United Nations General Assembly. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25). Retrieved from www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/ (Accessed 3.5.2013). Zufferey, C. (2017). Homelessness and social work: An intersectional approach. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Homelessness and homeless policies in the context of the residual Japanese welfare state Johannes Kiener and Toshio Mizuuchi
Introduction Homelessness became a widely-recognized problem in Japan during the 1990s when the number of rough sleepers rapidly increased. After several cities initiated uncoordinated countermeasures, the Japanese state adopted a new homeless policy at the beginning of the 2000s. Efforts involved the institution of a new homeless support agenda and support system, a restructuring of previous countermeasures and the expansion of the scope for public assistance. Furthermore, along with traditional providers of social services, non-profit organizations (NPOs) and more market-oriented organizations emerged as alternatives. The discourse on welfare states is increasingly infused with the language of neoliberalism. In Japanese research on homelessness, references to neoliberalism focus on labor and housing policies (Hirayama, 2009) or more generally to an individualistic lifestyle (Tsutsumi, 2010). For example, Hayashi (2015, p. 433) sees attempts of providing work assistance to decrease the role and scope of public assistance at the beginning of the 2010s as “neoliberalization from above”. Marr (2016), who focused his analysis on new transitional facilities aiming to bring homeless people back into employment, interprets them as workfare, a way of internalizing neoliberal subjectivity into the clients. Although these kinds of approaches provide a valuable critique to contemporary homeless policies, the totalizing and constructivist nature underlying the debate around neoliberalism disguises the complex pragmatics of homeless policies. In order to see beyond these narratives, we focus our analysis on the notion of neoliberalism as represented by the withdrawal of the public sector from cities and de-regulation of city life (Storper, 2016). In this context, welfare politics are interpreted through a historical lens, describing neoliberalism as successor to a previous Keynesian period (DeVerteuil, 2015). This is at odds with the reality of the Japanese welfare state, differing strongly from the western countries, the birthplace of this interpretation. In Japan, the welfare state never reached a stage that can be described as ‘Keynesian’ and is widely regarded as ‘residual’ in comparative studies. Although its basis was already established in the 1950s and 1960s, welfare development stopped during the oil crises in the 1970s. It is characterized by active informal welfare practices, a status-segregated social insurance system based on
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occupational welfare for ‘core’ workers, and low spending on personal social services, designed to support self-help, mutual aid, market welfare activities, and enterprise welfare (Kono, 2005). At the same time, planning and control through the central government are also part of its’ key features. The central state directly administers public assistance and strictly controls social services that are outsourced to private organizations (Fujimura, 1999). To re-interpret recent changes in the Japanese welfare state in regard to homelessness, we draw on a flexible definition of homelessness that is sensitive to changes and differences. We employ Mitchell’s (2011, p. 933) notion of homelessness as “a set of social relations . . . that shape the societal condition we call ‘homelessness”, focusing especially on policies dealing with homelessness to describe changes over time. In the center of our analysis is their historical development from the end of World War II to the most recent events in the capital Tokyo (twenty-three wards) and the cities Yokohama and Osaka. These three cities are home to major yoseba, places where day laborers gather to find work, with a considerable number of flophouses. As such, they have a long history of dealing with homelessness. Today, about half of the homeless people in Japan are living in these three cities, making them important places for understanding homelessness and homeless policies in Japan.
War damage and emerging public assistance During and after the World War II, widespread damage caused by heavy aerial bombing in Japan left many people without a proper home. Demobilized soldiers found their homes in ashes and, unable to obtain employment, were forced to live on the streets, along with children who had lost their homes and parents (Kuwahara, 2007). The most pressing form of homelessness was vagrancy, as large numbers of people spent nights in parks and stations. Apart from vagrants, many people lived in inappropriate housing, like shacks or holes dug into the ground (Yamada, 2009). The Ministry of Health and Welfare (kōsei-shō), today’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (kōsei rōdō-shō), approached homelessness through a fundamental revision of the Public Assistance Act (seikatsu hogo-hō) in 1950. Homeless people became eligible to welfare payments, a practice that continued until the 1960s and the Public Assistance Act became an all-encompassing approach towards homelessness, replacing all other laws applied in the past (Kuwahara, 2007). The construction of welfare facilities for homeless people who are unable to live on their own or rely on relatives was fostered through the revision. Major facilities regulated by the Public Assistance Act dealing with homelessness were relief facilities (kyūgo shisetsu) and rehabilitation facilities (kōsei shisetsu) for singles, especially for handicapped people and disabled veterans, and lodging facilities (shukusho teikyō shisetsu) for families. These public facilities are run by designated social welfare legal entities (shakai fukushi hōjin) and private organizations (Ogasawara et.al., 1999). Rehabilitation and lodging provision facilities reached their peak during the middle of the 1950s but, with the improvement of employment conditions and the decrease of unemployment, their number dropped
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 11 rapidly until the 1970s. On the other hand, relief facilities increased until the 1980s and their number is maintained at a high level until today (Mizuuchi, 2010). While this new social security system evolved, the market for day laborers began to consolidate, resulting in a large group of people lacking any permanent home and employment. The phenomenon of day laborers in Japan is very strongly connected to certain places called yoseba where day laborers and labor sharks get together and negotiate the conditions of employment. After the war, yoseba existed in all major cities around stations, public job centres and the harbor. But over time, larger yoseba with a considerable number of flophouses emerged. The three largest are San’ya in Tokyo, Kotobuki-chō in Yokohama, and Kamagasaki in Osaka. However, work procured through labor sharks lacked any official acknowledgment, making day laboring an informal employment, a sharp contrast to the post-war Employment Security Law (shokugyō antei-hō) that mandated labor security (Haraguchi, 2016).
The institutionalization of yoseba and day laborers This section shows how homelessness in Japan developed into a phenomenon strongly connected to day laborers and policies concerning them. The institutionalization of a parallel welfare system for day laborers turned it into a phenomenon spatially restricted to yoseba , becoming a strategy to overcome periods of unemployment. The yoseba welfare system Although homelessness caused by war gradually decreased with the recovery of the Japanese economy, the developing welfare state showed little concern towards single male workers, especially day laborers. Under the increased demand for labor during the high economic growth period (1954 to 1973), day labor was integrated into the legal framework and regulations for labor procuration were eased, allowing labor sharks to continue their business. For day laborers, a parallel welfare system was installed, turning yoseba into places where the work and life of single male workers was managed, transforming them into the required casual labor force (Haraguchi, 2016). Thus, homelessness and all the actions dealing with it were confined to these places from the 1960s to the 1990s. The notable weakness towards male wage workers of the Japanese welfare state increased further with the impact of the oil crisis in the 1970s. Financially weak municipalities stopped applying public assistance to people threatened by homelessness, and many poor people moved from small towns to large cities where they were still able to receive welfare benefits. Moreover, the ability to respond to homelessness through the Public Assistance Act was further weakened when the Ministry of Health and Welfare released a circular in 1981 aimed at preventing members of organized crime from receiving welfare benefits, which also affected the poor and needy (Kuwahara, 2007). In San’ya and Kamagasaki, special policies for day laborers were enacted in the 1960s, followed by Kotobuki-chō in the 1970. These areas were targeted by
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intervention on the national, prefectural, and municipal level, with countermeasures evolving around labor and welfare centers funded by the public but managed by private organizations. Housing assistance for day laborers was only provided in the form of seasonal shelters for the winter, operation of which was entrusted to social welfare legal entities. The scale of intervention was most far reaching in Kamagasaki, where it included a city-run rehabilitation counselling office (shiritsu kōsei sōdan-sho) and the densification of the flophouse stock. Thus, it became the largest yoseba in Japan, inhabited by 14,405 people in 1979, followed by San’ya and Kotobuki-chō, with 8,034 and 4,250 people respectively (Haraguchi, 2016). Policies for day laborers were built around three major issues. The first was the improvement of the labor conditions that were contingent on the labor sharks’ goodwill. Work that differed from the initial terms of contract (Haraguchi, 2011), and high brokerage fees were customary (Fowler, 1996). The public job offices in all three yoseba act as labor exchange and provide day labor opportunities without these issues but most of the day laborers avoid them because the jobs they often offer less pay and are less desirable (Ebi, 2011). To secure workplaces, public job offices accept low-paying jobs and cannot provide the same workforce as labor sharks who do preselection (Fowler, 1996). These issues were addressed by the work and welfare center in Kamagasaki through the provision of standardized forms to labor sharks, on which they had to announce their working conditions. Furthermore, a registration system for day laborers was installed and IDs were issued. This made it possible to contact the work and welfare center in case of emergency, enabling day laborers to demand compensation for loss of earnings in case of work accidents (Ebi, 2011). The second issue addressed was unemployment and unemployment relief. In the 1970s, before the background of an upcoming day laborer movement (Haraguchi, 2011) and the deep recession after the oil crisis in 1973, the unemployment insurance system for day laborers developed. The so-called ‘white card (shiro techō)’ was introduced, issued to day laborers registered at the public job centre. For every day of work, the employer pasted a stamp onto the white card, making day laborers who collected a certain number of stamps eligible for unemployment benefits (Fowler, 1996). But this system proved to be weak in times of economic slowdown, when workers could not work the required amount of days (Haraguchi, 2011). A system of bread and hotel vouchers was established in Yokohama under the socialist mayor Ichio Asukata. With the vouchers, unemployed workers could receive daily essentials at designated shops and use the flophouses for up to fifteen days (Kaneko, 2010). In Osaka, holding a white card made day laborers eligible for a small extra payment in summer and winter, a system that was in effect until 2005 (Haraguchi, 2011). The third issue concerns welfare for day laborers unable to work because of illness, disability, or old age. To tackle this issue, medical facilities were set up in the work and welfare centres to provide health checkups, simple treatments, and referral to other healthcare facilities in the case of major injuries (Ebi, 2011). These medical services are provided at a low price and loans are granted to people unable to pay the fees, although defaults are frequent (Inada, 2011). In addition, in
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 13 Kamagasaki, the rehabilitation counselling office provided temporary shelter and consultation services for people without a fixed address. Next to medical treatment, the medical facilities and the rehabilitation counselling office referred day labourers to other welfare services, like rehabilitation or relief facilities. However, the character of relief facilities changed after service needs increased due the revision of the Mental Health Law (seishin eisei-hō) in 1965. People with multiple disabilities and social handicaps, having no prospect of improving their health condition through training or rehabilitation, were transferred from other facilities. Joined by aged, handicapped and homeless day laborers, most of the relief facilities turned into permanent homes suffering from a bad reputation as being “at the bottom of social welfare” (Mizuuchi, 2010, p. 56). Homelessness among day laborers According to Aoki, day laborers are characterized by a “low level of proficiency”, “single life”, and “mobility”, referring to their low status in the workforce, their single male lifestyle, and their frequent change of workplace and residence (1999, p. 26). They consist of former lower and upper class workers, farmers, and nominal self-employed individuals who were pushed out of stagnating industries (Aoki, 2003). During the 1960s and 1970s, yoseba attracted many younger people in their teens or twenties. Although new day laborers continued to come, over time their number decreased, and their social characteristics changed. In the 1990s, most of the people joining the day laborer workforce were in their mid-40s, men that had left a family and a career behind (Fowler, 1996). In the 1960s and 1970s, day laborers worked in the construction, heavy and manufacturing industry and at harbors, driving forces of Japan’s high economic growth. From the beginning of the 1970s, day work shifted increasingly to the construction industry, making day laborers more vulnerable to movements in the business cycle (Aoki, 2003). Companies hiring them constitute the lowest level in a multi-layered subcontractor system (Nakayama & Ebi, 2007). They are hired for a certain period of time, during which the employer provides board and lodging, but costs are subtracted from the wage. While accommodation is secured in this way during the contract time, day laborers who work only for one day or who are out of work need to find other forms of accommodation, usually the flophouses of the yoseba (Watanabe, 2010). Due to the requirements stipulated by the Hotel Business Law (ryokangyō-hō), flophouses have some common characteristics, like rent can be paid by the day, single rooms are provided, and facilities like toilet and bathroom are shared (Hirakawa, 2011). Although this kind of accommodation is very well-adjusted to a day laborers’ life, this unstable housing situation puts them at high risk of becoming homeless. Thus, sleeping rough is an unavoidable reality for day laborers, and developed as an episodic phenomenon of their life. Even at the height of the ‘bubble economy’ in 1990, 400 rough sleepers could be counted on an average day in and around Kamagasaki (Niwa, 1992). For them, rough sleeping became a necessity to overcome times in which they cannot work because of economic depression,
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bad weather, or bad health conditions (Shima, 1999). Especially during the newyear holidays, a period in which no jobs are available, many day laborers were forced to sleep rough, exposed to the cold winter (Haraguchi, 2011). The number of homeless day laborers increased drastically because of the oil crisis during the 1970s, resulting in self-help activities by the newly formed day laborer unions. They organized overwinter struggle events (ettō tōsō) during which they provided support like food and blankets as well as night patrols to look after rough sleeping workers (Fowler, 1996; Haraguchi, 2011; Hayashi, 2015). Rough sleeping was strongly associated with the special living conditions in the yoseba and therefore the public did not consider it as a social issue that requires further intervention (Haraguchi, 2010). But before the background of the day laborer riots, space in Kamagasaki and San’ya started to be managed in a ‘revanchist’ (Smith, 1996) way. To counter the riots, local police stations were fortified and in Kamagasaki, the first CCTVs of Japan were installed (Fowler, 1996; Haraguchi, 2011). During the recession of the 1970s, the overwinter struggle event became a permanent institution in a park in Kamagasaki. Alarmed by this development, Osaka City enforced public security measures by sending in riot police and closing the park with a 3-meter-high fence. This spectacle was repeated in two other parks, leaving three of them closed to the public (Haraguchi, 2011). In San’ya, space-management exhibited a similar pattern. To keep day laborers out of the local park, a fence was installed, allowing only people who made a reservation in advance to enter, a method that was unique to San’ya (Fowler, 1996).
The rise of homelessness and self-reliance support This section explores how homelessness spatially expanded out to nearly all areas of major cities, and turned into a chronic phenomenon experienced by people with various backgrounds. To solve this issue, new support focused on transitional facilities, aimed at empowering homeless people to find regular employment. Emerging chronic homelessness Under the influence of the economic depression during the 1990s, homelessness became chronic and was no longer confined to yoseba and day laborers. To an extent completely unknown before, homeless people could now be seen in every big city. The impetus of this development was twofold. During the 1990s, the Japanese labor market lost its poverty-regulating capacity. In the stagnating economy, unemployment rates increased and the quality of jobs deteriorated. These developments emerged under several reforms in the late 1990s that fostered irregular employments without social protection, resulting in the most dualistic labor system in the OECD countries (Hayashi, 2013). At the same time, yoseba started to lose their function as labor market for down of luck workers, dubbed ‘deyosebization’ by Aoki (2003, p. 367). The gradual disappearance of day laborers was caused by the ageing of yoseba day laborers, which turned them into a comparatively inferior work force, by the diversification of recruiting methods through newspaper announcements or mobile telephones, and
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 15 by a decrease of job vacancies caused by a cut of public investments in the construction industry during the second half of the 1990s (Nakayama & Ebi, 2007). The people who became homeless under these new conditions were divided by Iwata (2007) into three categories. The first consists of people whose longest employment was regular or self-employment, providing social insurance, and of those who lived under stable housing conditions before becoming homeless. They had a relatively high education and many had been married. This type of homeless people was observed during the 1990s for the first time. The second category consists of people who had a secure workplace but were living in accommodation provided by the employer before becoming homeless. Although they are skilled workers or have some professional qualifications, most of them have never been married and their social life was restricted to the workplace. The third category involved people who frequently changed their job and who were without any permanent accommodation. This group refers to day laborers who became unable to work because of age or illness, and who cannot afford the rooms in flophouses. When the first nationwide homeless survey was conducted in Japan in 2003, 25,296 individuals were counted (Yamada, 2009). Their numbers were especially high in metropolitan areas like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka, which together account for more than half of the whole homeless population as show below in Figure 2.1 below. Homelessness itself changed crucially on several points. First, it turned into a chronic phenomenon. The 2003 national homeless survey revealed that 67.2% of the homeless were living on the streets for more than one year. Further, 84.1% had a permanent sleeping place, often in the form of shacks, tents, or cardboard boxes. (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2003). Second, homelessness was no longer confined to yoseba, but could be seen all over the city. Homeless people slept in building entrances, arcades of shopping streets, public buildings like stations, or built their encampments in parks and along river sides (Mizuuchi, 2001). Third, the number of people living in precarious housing conditions increased as well and
Tokyo (23 wards), Yokohama, Osaka
0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Figure 2.1 Number of homeless people in Japan (2003–2016) Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (2003–2016)
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came to be included under the label ‘homeless’. So-called ‘internet cafe refugees (netto kafe nanmin)’, people living in twenty-four-hour shops and working in low paying jobs, became popular through media reports (Tsumaki & Tsutsumi, 2010). Finally, although most of the homeless still were middle-aged and elderly men (Iwata, 2007), a gradual diversification was observed. Increasingly, younger people and women were also experiencing homelessness (Hayashi, 2013). The new expanded scale of homelessness and its visibility in public space spurred the creation of policies aimed towards public security and landscape preservation. While the local communities in the vicinity of yoseba were used to the presence of homeless people and had developed a “peaceful coexistence”, there was considerable concern against their presence in other residential areas (Mizuuchi, 2001, p. 167). The metropolitan government of Tokyo took a relatively hard position towards homelessness, conducting forced removal of homeless people from public areas (Kasai, 1999). In Osaka, evictions from parks, especially prior to major events, were reported (Haraguchi, 2016), but the common approach was more ‘consensual’ by trying to persuade homeless people to move into shelters or to apply for public assistance. In Yokohama, a similar approach was employed represented by the gradual removal of homeless people along the Nakamura River after the mid-2000s (Hayashi, 2013). A remaking of public space often accompanied the removal of homeless people to keep them out in the future. The most common approach is the installation of ‘exclusionary objects’ in places where homeless people used to sleep. Often, they are masked as art objects (Igarashi, 2004) and take the shape of arm-rests, hindering people to lie-down on benches, or flower pots. In some cases, like Tennoji Park in Osaka or Miyashita Park in Tokyo, the whole park was remodelled making it impossible for homeless people to live there by closing it from the public with fences and charging entrance fees (Sakai & Haraguchi, 2004). Transitional facilities and work-based homeless support The extraordinary increase and visibility of homeless people pointed out the limits of the existing homeless support system and called for new approaches. In Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka, new homeless policies started as early as in the first half of the 1990s (Kaneko, 2010; Kitagawa, 2012; Mizuuchi, 2002). Support for homeless people gained momentum when homelessness was approached on the national scale in 1999 with the “Conference on the Homeless Issue (hōmuresu mondai rengō-kaigi)” and the enactment of the Special Law on Temporary Measures to Support the Self-reliance of Homeless People (hōmuresu no jiritsu no shien tō ni kansuru tokubetsu sochi-hō) in 2002. The new law, originally limited to a ten-year period, was revised in 2007 and extended for another five years in 2012. Alongside guidelines for homeless support, it provided a budget of 1.9 billion yen in 2002 that was dramatically increased by the cabinet of the Democratic Party of Japan after the global financial turmoil in 2008, and reached 11.5 billion yen in 2012. From 2002 onwards, most of the previous support designed to tackle homelessness by the city governments through the 1990s became subject to this new law. In the new law, homeless people were defined as “individuals who use city parks, river beds, roads, train stations or other public facilities and conduct their
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 17 daily life there” (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2002). The early policies for homeless people divided them into three categories – unemployed people who want to work, but cannot find work; people who are in need for medical, welfare, or other support; and people who reject social life – but most of the new support was designed for people from the first category (Tsutsumi, 2010). In Tokyo, homeless support in the 1990s had a tentative character. The major projects were temporary shelters, especially for the winter and introducing so called ‘self-reliance programs’ into existing facilities. In 2001, the self-reliance support system ( jiritsu shien shisutemu) was instituted. This system divided the twenty-three wards of Tokyo into five blocks, and a temporary emergency shelter (kinkyū ichiji hogo sentā) and a homeless self-reliance support centre (hōmuresu jiritsu shien sentā) were placed in every block. These facilities were temporary and scheduled to be rebuilt after a period of five years. In the temporary emergency shelters, homeless peoples’ physical and mental conditions, together with their professional skills, were assessed and according to their needs, they were transferred to homeless self-reliance support centres, other welfare facilities, or got support to apply for public assistance. In addition, the ‘Support Program for Transition to Community Life (chiiki seikatsu ikō jigyō)’, a housing first program attempting to reduce homeless people in public space, commenced in 2004. The metropolis rented apartments to homeless people for a period of two years, with an option to extend the lease. In this period, job support, job training and other support necessary to become self-reliant, was provided. Since this system had some obvious problems – only half of the clients could find work and despite finding work, many were unable to continue after a while, resulting in a high number of repeaters – it was revised in 2010. A new self-reliance support centre (shingata jiritsu shien sentā) that combined elements of the previous support approaches was introduced. The facility fulfills the functions of the temporary emergency shelter and homeless self-reliance centre. Furthermore, people who left the facility were moved to apartments in its vicinity, while continuing to receive household and living skills training as well as counselling support (Kitagawa, 2012). In Yokohama, where the food and hostel voucher were used extensively after the deterioration of the day laborer market, the city government attempted to restrict their use by introducing a new homeless support system (Kaneko, 2010). As early as 1994, an emergency shelter was opened in which subsequently a job consulting room was installed. In 2003, the facility was moved to Kotobuki-chō, and turned into a homeless self-reliance support centre (Yokohama City, 2014). This homeless self-reliance support centre integrates a temporary emergency shelter and employs a two-track support system for clients who want to find normal employment and clients who want to continue day labor (Kaneko, 2010). To reduce the number of people becoming homeless again, apartments in the vicinity were introduced, where clients can live for up to three months, while accessing support from the facility (Yokohama City, 2014). In Osaka, homeless support started with the installation of a work program for elderly day laborers (Mizuuchi, 2002), followed by improvised shelters in Kamagasaki. From 2000 onwards, especially after the enactment of the new law, a complex support system developed. On the one hand, shelters were built to prevent homeless
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people from sleeping rough. First, these were night shelters in Kamagasaki for day laborers. They were designed to provide daily shelter, releasing the clients in the early morning hours when labor sharks arrive at the work and welfare centre (Mizuuchi, 2003). Second, temporary emergency shelters were built in parks with many homeless people, as an attempt to provide permanent shelter and reduce their presence. As well, a self-reliance support system for people who want to find work was installed. Initially, three permanent homeless self-reliance support centres opened, where clients could access job support for a maximum period of six months. Because of their poor performance, an assessment centre together with a fourth homeless self-reliance support centre was added in 2007, to help select clients who are willing and able to work. Furthermore, to improve the support for long-term homeless people and those unable to work, a so-called ‘satellite program’ was added and subsequently transformed into an apartment program (similar to Tokyo). Life skills support was outsourced to private organizations, and the focus on career consulting and after care was strengthened (Osaka City, 2014). Although there was an increase in the number of clients becoming self-reliant due to social support that combined work and social welfare or only social welfare, the number of self-reliance support centres in Osaka was reduced in recent years reflecting the decrease of homeless people. All homeless self-reliance support centres and temporary emergency shelters are entrusted to social welfare legal entities. Having often a long history of cooperation with the cities, they differ from NPOs, who developed mostly out of grassroot movements and are comparably new organizations that emerged after the passing of the NPO law in 1998 (Marr, 2016). In recent years, NPOs turned into significant providers of welfare beyond the official homeless support and started also some cooperation with the state. As partners of the Homeless People Job Assistance Program (hōmuresu shūgyō shien jigyō) they provide career consultants and employment. One example of these NPOs is the Jiritsu shien sentā furusato no kai (roughly translated to ‘self-reliance support centre hometown society’) in Tokyo, that is running several facilities and live and care services for homeless people. Also, the Kamagasaki shien kikō (The Organization to Support the Homeless in Kamagasaki) in Osaka, that was founded by members of the Antiunemployment Network (han-shitsugyō renraku-kai) and is running a night shelter as well as employment programs for homeless people in the Airin district, became an important partner of the state. Furthermore, the influence of NPOs and private organizations on homeless policies strengthened with the establishment of the umbrella organization NPO National Homeless Support Network in 2009. This think thank is attempting to influence homeless policies through several proposals and was a crucial advocate for the extension of the new law in 2012. In addition, existing welfare facilities underwent some crucial changes. Starting in 2002 a series of reforms and funding allowed ambulatory assistance (tsūsho jigyō) for former clients in relief and rehabilitation facilities to increase. Ambulatory assistance aims to increase their ability to live on their own by providing training after leaving the facility (Mizuuchi, 2010). In Tokyo, the reforms of welfare facilities were coordinated by the Conference of Tokyo Wards’ Welfare Office Heads (tokubetsuku fukushi jimusho-chō kai). With the aim to transfer clients to other facilities or to private
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 19 apartments, job support and training for self-reliance were introduced. To provide an equal quality of services, a ‘backup centre’ was founded in 2006 that coordinates applications to welfare facilities from all Tokyo wards, sending specialized consultants to welfare facilities, and providing training for the staff (Kitagawa, 2012). Yokohama city published guidelines in 2003 for the establishment of ambulatory assistance that was adapted by some welfare facilities. For instance, the rehabilitation facility Minshūkan started a one-year program for former clients, including job support and training for self-reliance, as well as counselling services. Former clients are required to visit the facility on a regular basis and staff visited their homes (Yokohama airinkai, 2017). The welfare facilities in Osaka were turned into transitional facilities in a different trajectory. In 2000, the government of Osaka City decided to allow public assistance to leavers of welfare facilities (Ōsaka shiyakusho & Nishinari-ku hoken fukushi sentā, 2007), enabling many clients to become self-reliant before the nationwide policy started. Subsequently ambulant assistance was introduced into some of the relief and rehabilitation facilities. Aside from job support and training for self-reliance, some of the facilities also started to work closely with local support organizations to provide a wide range of care. Furthermore, community cafes were installed to stay in contact with former clients and promote community building (Mizuuchi, 2010).
Towards a comprehensive social safety net As discussed next, adjustments to the scope of public assistance became a crucial factor for reducing homelessness. It caused a wide effect in the housing market, providing not only shelter but also different kinds of support for welfare recipients with various needs. Following this, homelessness decreased significantly in Japanese cities. The expanding social safety net and its challenges Alongside the development of this homeless support, public assistance became a major force for reducing homelessness. In recent years, the scope of public assistance was crucially altered by three circulars from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The first one, issued in 2003, urged welfare offices to assess the eligibility of homeless people for public assistance equally with non-homeless citizens. Backed by the enactment of the new law in 2002, it had wide reaching effects on elderly homeless people (Mizuuchi, 2007). The second and third circulars were both issued in 2009, after fierce protests in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park demanding action against increasing poverty following the global financial turmoil in 2008. These circulars urged the local welfare offices to more actively support applications for public assistance from homeless people and temporary workers who had lost their jobs, affecting this time also younger homeless people (Hayashi, 2015). Consequently, the number of public assistance recipients rose from 1,344,327 in 2003 to 2,161,612 in 2013. There was a remarkable increase especially after the circulars in 2009 with 170,952 new public assistance recipients in 2009 and 188,491 in 2010, as shown in Figure 2.2 below.
Johannes Kiener and Toshio Mizuuchi 4.0
Figure 2.2 Welfare rate and welfare recipients in post-war Japan Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (2016a)
This increase resulted in a new housing market for public assistance recipients that developed in very diverse ways, depending on available local resources. In Tokyo, public assistance benefits were granted to people lodging in flophouses, run under the Hotel Business Law, allowing them to seamlessly adapt their business to welfare recipients. In 2005, approximately 50% of flophouse residents in San’ya were already on public assistance (Kawakami, 2005). In addition to the flophouses, an expanding market for free and low rent hostels (muryō teigaku shukuhaku-jo) developed. These facilities are second class social welfare enterprises, defined by the Social Welfare Law (shakai fukushi-hō) and run by private companies or NPOs. Originally, these hostels were transitional facilities but became permanent homes for many formerly homeless people. These facilities are very diverse, housing residents with various needs. Therefore, they often provide a wide range of services like domestic or counselling services, supporting their clients to prevent them from becoming homeless again (Watanabe, 2008). Welfare benefits in Yokohama developed independently from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s circulars. The city and social movements decided informally at a very early stage to allow flophouse residents to register as citizens and to apply for public assistance (Hayashi, 2013). Therefore, flophouse residents receiving welfare assistance were already increasing during the 1990s, exceeding two thirds of the approximately 6,500 residents in 2000. Landlords seized this new business opportunity by favoring welfare recipients who had a stable income and reinvested in their buildings. This triggered a building boom at the end of the 1990s and today most of the flophouses appear like regular apartments, equipped with elevators and handrails to accommodate aged and disabled welfare recipients.
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 21 These favorable conditions also attracted people who worked and lived in other areas of Yokohama (Yamamoto, 2010). In Osaka, public assistance benefits were not granted to flophouse residents, producing a distinctive market for welfare housing that tapped partly into Kamagasaki’s flophouses and the surrounding housing stock of Nishinari ward. Since the flophouses in Kamagasaki were experiencing increasing vacancies, many landlords decided to give up the flophouse business and transform the buildings into ‘welfare apartments (fukushi jūtaku)’. Often, this was only a formal change, allowing residents to register as citizens and apply for public assistance (Inada, 2011). But frequently, the business was adopted to the needs of welfare recipients by renovating the building and providing a wide range of services. The so-called ‘supportive houses (sapōtibu hausu)’ became a well-received type of welfare apartment and seventeen flophouse buildings were run as this type of housing in 2011. Their common features include staff available for consultation and life support twenty-four hours a day, a community room that can be used freely by residents, staff and local support groups, a physical environment suitable for elderly people, and the abandonment of guarantor and deposit money that is usually demanded by Japanese landlords, enabling homeless people to transfer without financial means to a housed life (Shirahase, 2014). Flophouses transformed into welfare apartments increased sharply during the 2000s, reaching about 50% of the 199 flophouse buildings in 2010 (Mizuuchi & Hirakawa, 2011). In Osaka, this development was not confined to Kamagasaki and spread out over Nishinari ward, where many landlords reached out to the safe incomes the housing business for public assistance recipients promised. Channelled through welfare offices, transitional facilities or hospitals, many homeless people came to live in Nishinari ward on public assistance (Mizuuchi, 2007). Thus, the public assistance rate in Nishinari ward reached 23.5%of all residents in 2012, far exceeding the national average of 1.7%. However, most types of housing for public assistance recipients were heavily criticized under the label ‘poverty business (hinkon bijinesu)’, highlighting the low quality of the living environment, like small rooms and limited access to sanitary facilities or the practice of charging the residents for additional services, leaving only a small amount of money they can use freely (Shirahase, 2014). Suzuki (2010) argues that this perception is related to public assistance allocation that does not allow landlords to charge openly for services – the special conditions of welfare recipients’ demands – which force landlords to increase the rent to the allowed maximum. The discussion about ‘poverty business’ in the media relates to increasing fiscal burden especially for municipalities with high percentages of public assistance recipients, necessitating countermeasures. In Osaka, which was most affected by the increase of welfare recipients, countermeasures started as early as in 2010. The city government reduced payments of security deposits and key money covered by housing assistance benefits; started investigating housing registered as free and low rent hostels; and provided more material help instead of cash allowances (Osaka City, 2015). In 2015, the housing allowance benefit scheme was readjusted, lowering the
Johannes Kiener and Toshio Mizuuchi
upper limit in Osaka from 42,000 to 40,000 yen, but stayed without effect in Tokyo and Yokohama (Shirahase, 2015). Furthermore, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare enforced the Self-reliance Support Law for Needy People (seikatsu konkyūsha jiritsu shien-hō) in 2015 to create an additional layer of support ahead of public assistance. By providing employment support and training, it aims to encourage poor people to support themselves through work instead of public assistance (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2015). The legal enforcement of this selfreliance is based on the cooperation of municipal governments with social welfare legal entities and NPOs, giving it a rather semipublic character. Disappearance of homelessness in public space The homeless self-reliance policy and especially the expansion of the scope of welfare benefits had a profound impact on homelessness in Japan. First, as shown in Figure 2.1, the number of homeless people decreased between 2003 and 2016 by 75.4%, making them less conspicuous in Japanese cities today. This decrease is evenly distributed over most cities – including the three cities discussed here – suggesting that it is related to the national homeless policy and not the effort of some municipalities. Also, the degree of rough sleeping has changed. Between 2003 and 2016, people sleeping rough for less than one year decreased from 32.8% to 22.2%. Those sleeping rough for more than three years increased from 43.7% to 65.6%, suggesting that long term rough sleepers who do not respond to support remained on the streets. Nevertheless, encampments that were quite frequent in the 2000s are disappearing. The percentage of homeless people sleeping in shacks or tents decreased from 54.4% to 34.3% (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2017). Thus, homeless people became virtually invisible in urban space. Accompanied by the disappearance of homeless encampments, the locations of rough sleeping have changed as well. In the same time period, the number of homeless people sleeping in parks decreased from 40.8% to 23.1%, while those sleeping in roofed facilities increased from 18.7% to 28.3% (Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 2003, 2016b). Recent surveys show that many people consult with the local welfare office before / shortly after they became homeless. They are often transferred to facilities or apply for public assistance, and those who actually sleep rough are likely to be picked up by social workers or park staff that connects them to further support (Shirahase, 2017). This decrease in homeless people was accompanied by the opening and renewal of public spaces. In Osaka, the fences that were built at the beginning of the 1990s to hinder homeless people from entering Tennoji Park were removed and a part of the park was opened for commercial facilities (Haraguchi, 2016). Furthermore, to improve the environment in Kamagasaki, the former mayor Hashimoto Tōru started a project called Nishinari Special Ward Initiative (nishinari tokku kōsō) in 2012. With the declared aim of reducing drug dealing, the number of CCTVs was increased. Also, the second-hand market where day laborers used to trade goods was subjected to several police crack downs to combat video piracy. Unauthorized graffiti were replaced with a planned graffiti project and a limited liability
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 23 company was founded and entrusted with the collection of illegally disposed garbage and cleaning of the area. Through employing elderly day laborers for these jobs, it also became a way to secure work (Suzuki, 2016). Finally, inhabitants of the last encampments in the area were convinced by social workers to apply for public assistance, until shacks and tents disappeared nearly entirely, even in Kamagasaki. These policies changed partially the day laborers districts appearances making it nearly as clean as every other area in Osaka.
Conclusion Our discussion showed that preexisting support for day laborers constituting homelessness was not reduced by new policies. In the past, day laborers excluded from public assistance had to rely on an inferior welfare system, consisting of welfare facilities and work-related support in the yoseba that are still operating today. The new homeless policies were based on a state provision that enabled the construction of new facilities and installation of support programs, providing a route into regular employment. In addition, the expansion of the scope of public assistance to homeless people opened the way into regular housing, generating a housing market that responds to public assistance recipients’ needs. This development was also promoted through the introduction of assistance into existing welfare facilities. The restructuring of homeless policies in Japan is an expansion of the public sector, incorporating homeless people into the regular social security system. In this process, the traditional social welfare entities initially took on the central role, leaving only little space to other actors. Nevertheless, NPOs and other private actors developed into significant welfare providers through the provision of services for welfare recipients. Subsequently they found some official support, but have an ambivalent stance towards the state, as the discussion on free and low rent hostels showed. Homelessness that had developed as a phenomenon closely related to day laborers became an issue for the broader population. Yoseba had been institutionalized as places where down of luck workers are accommodated, accepting homelessness as strategy to overcome temporary unemployment. Following day laborer riots and increasing union activities, local governments took on a revanchist stance against homelessness by employing surveillance and eviction. But when in the 1990s yoseba lost their function as work distribution centres and restructuring of the Japanese economy started, homelessness occurred on a wider scale and became a chronic phenomenon. Authorities countered this by a relatively ‘consensual’ approach, subsequently reducing homelessness. In combination with the remodelling of the urban environment, the visibility of poverty in urban space was reduced. This discussion showed that the interpretation of a restructuring welfare state has to be put into a historical context to fully understand its significance in regard to neoliberalism. The absence of a past Keynesian welfare state in Japan requires a different interpretation of restructuring processes, although the employment of new workfare like programs exhibit some parallels to AngloAmerican welfare states.
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Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 25 Kawakami, M. (2005). The reality of homeless people in Japan (Nihon niokeru hōmuresu no jittai). Tokyo: Gakubunsha. Kitagawa, Y. (2012). Development of homeless policy: Focusing on ‘welfare facilities’ and ‘homeless policy’ in Tokyo special wards. Journal of the Open University of Japan, 30, 41–53. Kono, M. (2005). The welfare regime in Japan. In A. Walker & C.-K. Wong (Eds.) East Asian welfare regimes in transition: From confucianism to globalisation. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 117–144. Kuwahara, Y. (2007). The history and system of handling homelessness (Hōmuresu shogū no rekishi to seido. In S. Takata, Y. Kuwahara & T. Ōsaka (Eds.) Hōmuresu kenkyū; Kamagasaki kara no hasshin. Tōkyō: Shinsansha, pp. 136–160. Marr, M.D. (2016). Urban welfare regimes, organizational cultures, and client-staff tie activation: A comparison of transitional housing programs in Los Angeles and Tokyo. Journal of Urban Affairs, 38(2), 214–235. Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2002). Special law on temporary measures to support the self-reliance of homeless people (7th August 2012 act no. 105) (Hōmuresu no jiritu no shien tō ni kansuru tokubetsu sochihō (heisei 24nen 8gatsu 7nichi hōritsu dai 105gō)). Retrieved from http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/H14/H14HO105.html (Accessed 31.7.2016). Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2003). Survey report on the reality of homeless people (Hōmuresu no jittai ni kansuru zenkoku chōsa hōkoku-sho). Retrieved from www. mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2003/03/h0326-5.html#mokuji (Accessed 31.7.2016). Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2015). Introduction of a system (Seido no shōkai). Retrieved from www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/seisakunitsuite/bunya/0000073432.html (Accessed 22.11.2016). Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2016a). Annual change of social welfare receiving households and welfare rate (Hihogo jitsu setai-sū, hogo-ritsu no nenji suii). Retrieved from www.ipss.go.jp/s-info/j/seiho/seiho.asp (Accessed 11.11.2016). Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2016b). About the results of the survey on the reality of homeless people (approximate figure) (Hōmuresu no jittai ni kansuru zenkoku chōsa (gaisū chōsa) kekka ni tsuite). Retrieved from www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/houdou/0000122778.html (Accessed 21.11.2016). Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. (2017). Survey report on the reality of homeless people (Hōmuresu no jittai ni kansuru zenkoku chōsa hōkoku-sho). Proceedings of the Hōmuresu no jittai ni kan suru zenkoku chōsa ni kakaru iken kōkan kai (Accessed 25.1.2017). Mitchell, D. (2011). Homelessness: American style. Urban Geography, 32(7), 933–956. Mizuuchi, T. (2001). The light and shadow of Osaka city (Toshi ōskaka no hikari to kage). In Y. Morita (Ed.) Rakusō; Nojuku ni ikiru. Tokyo: Nihon keizai shinbunsha, pp. 146–169. Mizuuchi, T. (2002). Background and genealogy of movements and projects for self-reliance support of homeless people: The case of Osaka prefecture and city (Nojuku seikatsu-sha jiritsu shien e no undō jigyō no keii to keifu; Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi no baai). Kikan ShelterLess, 15, 49–61. Mizuuchi, T. (2003). Growth of rough sleepers in Osaka and the recent evolution of actions of government, NPO and volunteer organizations. In S. Nakagawa & B. Sumrongthong (Eds.) What’s happening on the street? Bangkok: UCRC Bangkok Office, pp. 32–60. Mizuuchi, T. (2007). The sharp increase of public assistance and the reality of former homeless people’s community life: From Kamagasaki to whole Nishinari ward (Seikatsuhogo jukyū no gekizō to datsunojuku seikatsu-sha no chiiki kyojū no genjō; Kamagasaki kara nishinari-ku zeniki o megutte), In B. Takada, Y. Kuwahara, & T. Ōsaka (Eds.) Hōmuresu kenkyū: Kamagasaki kara no hasshin. Tokyo: Shinsensha, pp. 68–88.
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Mizuuchi, T. (2010). Public assistance facilities from the viewpoints of housing security and homeless support (Kyojū hoshō to hōmuresu shien kara mita seikatsu hogo shisetsu) Toshi mondai, 101, 51–63. Mizuuchi, T. & Hirakawa, T. (2011). Describing the flophouse district in numbers: Airin district’s 10 years of change (Sūji de ou kanishukuhakusho-gai: Airin chiiki no kono 10 nen no henka). In Urban Research Plaza (Ed.) Ōsaka-fu Kanishukusho seikatsu eisei dōgyō kumiai 50nenshi. Osaka: Urban Research Plaza, pp. 10–19. Niwa, K. (1992). ‘Yoseba’ Kamagasaki and ‘rough sleepers’. Japanese Journal of Human Geography, 44(5), 545–564. Nakayama, T. & Ebi, I. (2007). The shrinking process of the day labor market and the issue of homeless people (Hiyatoi rōdō shijō no shukushō katei to nojuku seikatsu-sha mondai). In Bin Takada, Yōko Kuwahara, & Takako Ōsaka (Eds.) Hōmuresu kenkyū: Kamagasaki kara no hasshin. Tokyo: Shinsensha, pp. 34–67. Ogasawara, Y. ., Fukushima K., & Oguni H. (1999). Social welfare facilities (Shakai fukushi shisetsu). Tokyo: Yūhikaku. Osaka City. (2014). Osaka city’s homeles self-reliance support execution plan (from 2014 to 2018) (Ōsaka-shi hōmuresu no jiritsu no shien tō ni kansuru jisshi keikaku (heisei 26nendo – heisei 30nendo). Retrieved from www.city.osaka.lg.jp/fukushi/cmsfiles/ contents/0000008/8085/jissikeikaku.pdf (Accessed 14.2.2017). Osaka City. (2015). Poverty business countermeasures etc. (Hinkon bijinesu taisaku nado). Retrieved from www.city.osaka.lg.jp/fukushi/page/0000087121.html (Accessed 29.10.2016). Ōsaka shiyakusho & Nishinari-ku hoken fukushi sentā. (2007). The approach of the relief facility Imaike Heiwa-ryō in Osaka city’s Nishinari ward (Ōsakashi nishinari-ku no kyūgoshisetsu imaikeheiwa-ryō no torikumi). Retrieved from www.lit.osaka-cu.ac.jp/ geo/mizuuchi/japanese/material/imaike_leaf.pdf (Accessed 10.11.2016). Sakai, H. & Haraguchi, T. (2004). Evicting open air karaoke from Tennōji park: A scene of diminishing public space (Kōkyū kūkan tennōji kōen aozora karaoke kyōsei tekkyo; Kōkyō kūkan no shūen no kōkei). Sekai, 726, 192–200. Shima, K. (1999). The rough sleepers of contemporary Japan (Gendai nihon no nojuku seikatusha). Tokyo: Gakubunsha. Shirahase, T. (2014). Housing welfare in the Airin district: New developments and topics of support for homeless people (Airin chiiki niokeru kyojū shien: Hōmuresu shien no arata na tenkai to kadai). Riron to dōtai, 7, 76–91. Shirahase, T. (2015). Welfare in the Airin district for increasingly aging singles 1: Dwellings of the poor and needy (Tanshin kōreika ga susumu Airinchiku no fukushi 1: Seikatsu konkyū-sha no sumai). Buraku kaihō kenkyū, 202, 80–88. Shirahase, T. (2017). The life of the homeless in Osaka (Ōsaka no hōmuresu seikatsu). In Y. Keiko (Ed.) Gurōbaru shiti niokeru hōmuresu no kokusai hikaku; Tōkyō, Ōsaka, Maiami, Manira. Tokyo: Mineruwa shobō, forthcoming. Smith, N. (1996). The new urban frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city. London and New York: Routledge. Storper, M. (2016). The neo-liberal city as idea and reality. Territory, Politics, Governance, 4(2), 241–263. Suzuki, W. (2010). What are the problems of the free and low rent hostels? (Muryō teigaku shukuhaku-jho mondai to wa nanika). Hōmuresu to shakai, 2, 22–27. Suzuki, W. (2016). The poorest area of Japan challanged by an economist: The whole story of the Airin reform’s 3 years and 8 months (Keizaigakusha nihon no saihinkon chiiki ni idomu; Airin kaikaku 3nen 8kagetsu no zenkiroku). Tokyo: Tōyōkeizai shinhōsha.
Homelessness and homeless policies in Japan 27 Tsumaki, S. & Tsutsumi, K. (2010). Family norms and homelessness: Support or fetter (Kazoku kiban to hōmuresu; Fujo ka shikkoku ka). In A. Hideo (Ed.) Hōmuresu stadīzu; Haijo to hōsetsu no riariti. Kyoto: Mineruwa shobō, pp. 169–201. Tsutsumi, K. (2010). Invitation to homeless studies (Hōmuresu sutadīzu e no shōtai). In A. Hideo (Ed.) Hōmuresu sutadīzu: Haijo to hōsetsu no riariti. Kyoto: Mineruwa shobō, pp. 1–32. Watanabe, K. (2008). Governmental support for homeless people in Tokyo: From localized policy in San’ya to universal policies for homeless people (Hōmuresu/nojukusha o meguru gyōsei shien; ‘Sanya taisaku’ kara ‘hōmuresu taisaku’ e). Tōyō daigaku daigakuin kiyō, 45, 37–57. Watanabe, T. (2010). Hard working and laziness of work camp workers (Hanba rōdōsha niokeru kinben to namake), In A. Hideo (Ed.) Hōmures sutadīzu; Haijo to hōsetsu no riariti. Kyoto: Mineruwa shobō, pp. 107–135. Yamada, S. (2009). Work and welfare in homeless-support (Hōmuresu shien niokeru shūrō to fukushi). Tōkyō: Akashi shoten. Yamamoto, K. (2010). Changes in the social structure and social activism in the urban underclass area: A case of Yokohama, Japan. Toshi kagaku kenkyū, 3, 83–93. Yokohama airinkai. (2017). Rehabilitation facility Minshūkan (Kōsei shisetsu minshūkan). Retrieved from www.airinkai.com/pdf/01_data.pdf (Accessed 7.2.2017). Yokohama City. (2014). Third period (from 2014 to 2018) Yokohama city homeless selfreliance support execution plan (Dai 3ki (heisei 26nendo kara heisei 30nendo) yokohamashi hōmuresu no jiritsu no shien ni kansuru jisshi keikaku). Retrieved from www.city. yokohama.lg.jp/kenko/entai/homeless/jisshikeikaku/homelessplan.pdf. (Accessed 30.11.2016).
Homelessness in China Della Qiu and Carole Zufferey
Introduction This chapter examines existing literature, policy, service responses and lived experiences of homelessness in China. Homelessness in an understudied area of research in China. Literature on homelessness in China tends to focus on ‘vagrants’ and ‘beggars’ in cities and roofless people without family and social supports, who mainly come from rural areas. The contributing environmental and systemic factors that shape homelessness in China include changing economic and social conditions that increase divisions between the rich and the poor, decreased family supports, inadequate social security systems, and the limited responses of government and non-government institutions to potentially homeless people. The Aid Stations, as the main government response to homelessness, are particularly discussed in this chapter, along with their limitations. Areas for further research and consideration about homelessness in China are also outlined.
Homelessness in China Homelessness as a social problem is understudied in China (Li & Liu, 2015). The complex and multi-dimensional nature of homelessness is dynamic, linked to structural and social change within societies (Kennett, Jeon & Mizuuchi, 2012). Systemic and social changes provide the impetus for the growing number of homeless people in China. Social workers in China are increasingly involved in responding to individuals who experience homelessness as well as in advocating for social change. Vagrants and beggars in cities, as the most visible homeless group of people, are the main focus of homelessness for the Chinese government and social media. Despite significant changes in policy and management, the inadequacy of Aid Stations throughout the country in dealing with homelessness (‘vagrants and beggars’) has been acknowledged in Chinese academic literature (Liu, 2010; Hao, 2008; Liu, 2015). With the growing attention of other social issues, such as ‘leftbehind children’ and domestic violence, Chinese responses to other homeless groups of people are emerging. This chapter focuses on the general direction of the Chinese governments’ management of homelessness, lived experiences and emerging areas for future consideration.
Homelessness in China
Background information China, with a population of 1.3 billion, was the second largest economy of the world in 2015, contributing 13.43% of the total world economic output, and China is continuously playing an important and influential role in the global economy (World Bank, 2016). China has experienced dramatic economic and social changes over the last three decades, especially after the establishment of a ‘socialist market economy’, with important social ramifications, including the emergence of the ‘floating population’ (Kennett, Jeon & Mizuuchi, 2012; Wu, 2012). In 2010, the national census recorded the total figure for internal migration in China, which was 261,386,075 people. This included 39,959,423 people with current residence, different from the place of their household registration in the same city, and included 221,426,652 people living outside of their registered municipalities for more than six months (defined as ‘floating population’). Internal migration rose by 81.03%, compared with the fifth national census in 2000 (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2011). A ten-year study on spatial distribution patterns of Chinese migration from 1999 to 2008 found that the Chinese population migration was mainly concentrated in the southeast coastal provinces and cities such as Guangdong Province, Zhejiang Province and Shanghai, and the determinant factors were the regional level of economic development, urbanization and openness (Shen & Huo, 2011). Both the 2000 and 2010 national population census reported that the dominant consideration for migration (including intra-province and inter-province) was work or business, which respectively accounted for 64% and 55% (Liang, Li & Ma, 2014, p. 704). Specifically, in 2010, the census calculated that the proportion of people choosing work or business as the reason for migration among inter-provincial immigrants was 72.9%; other reasons included joining dependents (11%), education or training (5.4%), joining relatives or friends (3.7%), marriage (2.3%), job transfer (2.2%), other reason (1.7%), demolition of old residence or moving (0.8%) and job assignment (0.1%) (Liang, Li & Ma, 2014, p. 704). The response of the social welfare system, interwoven with the Chinese household registration system (hukou), cannot be neglected when considering the ‘floating population’. The hukou system registers Chinese citizens with having either a rural or urban status, and in contemporary China, residents in urban areas, have also been divided into people who hold a local hukou in the area and those who have a hukou in other areas (urban or rural migrants) (Li & Ren, 2011; Cheng, Nielsen & Smyth, 2013). Traditionally, local employment, education, and social welfare systems are attached to the person’s hukou but the ‘floating population’ do not have a local hukou and they face a series of institutional barriers and limited access to the local welfare system (Li & Ren, 2011). Since the middle of the 1990s, with the gradual reform of the hukou system, migrants have been entitled to certain conditional benefits attached to local hukou, such as social insurance participation (Li & Ren, 2011; Cheng, Nielsen & Smyth, 2013). However, according to socioeconomic indicators, including intra-group income inequality and poverty, the position of rural migrants was the worst, compared to urban migrants and urban locals, who performed the second and the best respectively (Guo & Cheng, 2010).
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The rural-urban divide and differential treatment between local people and migrants continues to act as systemic barriers for the floating population. The majority of the floating population are rural migrants, contributing to the increasing risks of homelessness among this group of people.
The invisibility of homelessness in policy responses An official government definition of homelessness in China could not be located in a search of academic literature, government websites, and media reports (see also Tipple & Speak, 2009, p. 72). The term ‘homelessness’ tends to be invisible in China and has not attracted much political attention, except when responding to socially disruptive behaviours or as the concern of poverty-oriented advocacy groups (Rosenheck, 2011). In response to a request for data on the extent of homelessness in China, the report submitted by Chinese government to United Nations Economic and Social Council (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR], 2014, p. 50) had indicated: China currently lacks statistical data on the numbers of homeless in the strict sense of the term; the vast majority of vagrants and beggars are persons who have fallen into temporary living difficulties far from home owing to failure to find work, failure to find relatives, or have been the victims of robbery or theft. When examining the focus of the coverage of the social media with regards to the issue of homelessness, and the prevalent perspectives of the general population on homeless people, it was found that ‘the homeless’ in China are represented as vagrants and beggars in cities, and roofless people without family and social support. Drawing on these assumptions, homelessness in Chinese society tends to be defined as ‘rooflessness’ – that is, sleeping rough, without a shelter of any kind, consistent with the dominant understanding of homelessness in East Asia (Kennett & Mizuuchi, 2010). These representations of homelessness shape Chinese governments’ responses to homelessness, including the relevant policies and social relief systems, such as Aid Stations. Li and Liu (2015) analyzed the process of acquiring and constructing stable residential space by migrant populations. They provided several important explanations for why homelessness is not seen to be a serious issue in China, including the higher rate of family-owned housing compared to the world average; ‘floating populations’ being able to return to their hometowns if they cannot afford stable living conditions in cities; common social or cultural practices that provide assistance or that offer temporary accommodation for family members, relatives, and friends who are homeless or are potentially homeless in Chinese society, and the significant role of Aid Stations across China in eliminating highly visible homelessness, despite their existing drawbacks in various aspects. Furthermore, cultural obligations toward homeless family members, relatives and friends have an impact on the community views and responses towards homelessness in China. Zhang (2010) argues that the welfare culture depends on family
Homelessness in China
support and has an interactive relationship with the social security system. The foundation of Chinese culture is based on family. When a person experiences an accident or disaster, this person tends to turn to his or her family or the traditional clan system for help, and they are expected to offer this help. For example, if a woman experiences domestic violence by her husband and the marital home is not a safe place to live anymore, this generally falls into one type of homelessness in western societies. However, from the Chinese cultural and social perspective, she is not homeless as she can stay at her parents’ place, which is regarded to be her home as well, especially in the case of one-child families. Under the influence of social transition, the changing family structure, and reduced attention to moral education and increased multiculturalism, family tradition and culture in modern China have experienced tremendous changes. Filial piety and family bonds are relatively weaker than before (Jin & Guo, 2016), which leads to a reduced role of family support as a protective factor for homelessness. With the erosion of family supports, welfare systems, and affordable housing, which have hitherto helped maintain a relatively low level of homelessness in China, it is anticipated that homelessness will become an important area of research in the future (Li & Liu, 2015). The issue of homelessness in China’s major cities has become more visible during the post-reform era, particularly in the last decade (Zhang & McWhinney, 2012).
A brief history of internal displacement in China and government responses Historically, people, mainly peasants, were displaced by natural disasters and manmade misfortunes (such as wars), and many of them became beggars to make a living (Zhang, 2004; Liu, 2006). After the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 until 1978, natural disasters and difficulties in the national economy were the main causes of population mobility. The Chinese government adopted a rigid control over rural-urban population mobility, with the Ministry of Public Security on the Prohibition of Free Population Movement establishing ‘detention and deportation stations’, called ‘sheltering and sending home stations’ in large and medium-sized cities in late 1961, marking the beginning of the ‘sheltering and repatriation’ system (Gao, 2015; Zhang & McWhinney, 2012). During this period, alongside the wellknown response of repatriating vagrants and beggars back to their ‘homes’ with the primary goal of social stabilization, the Chinese government also organized for beggars and vagrants to receive training and perform labor (Gao, 2015). After Chinese economic reforms and the ‘opening-up’ policy in 1978, rapid development of urbanization and modernization increased the disparity between rural and urban areas. This caused a growing number of people to fall below the poverty line, due to insufficient educational backgrounds and technical skills to compete in the job market and society (Zhang, 2014). As well, the gradual relaxation of the hukou system, value diversification that resulted from economic-centred values, a lack of social security, and the exacerbation of social mobility gave rise to dramatically increasing numbers of beggars, particularly in big cities (Zhang, 2004; Liu, 2006). In 1982, the ‘Measures for Sheltering and Repatriation of Urban Vagrants and
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Beggars’ was issued by the State Council, and in 1991, the ‘three withouts’ – without legal documentation, without fixed dwelling, and without stable income – were added into the work scope of Sheltering and Repatriation Centres, leading to increasing public order administration and decreasing social aid in these centres (Gao, 2015; Zhang & McWhinney, 2012). Entwined with the task of preserving stability and order, limited funding and an expanding work load, Sheltering and Repatriation Centres gradually ceased to function as welfare institutions and involved a series of practices that resulted in pernicious incidents (Zhang & McWhinney, 2012). The most noted incident was the death of Sun Zhigang, a young college graduate, who did not have a temporary residence permit for the city and was beaten to death, three days after being taken into one of the Custody and Repatriation Centres in Guangzhou (Gao, 2015; Zhang & McWhinney, 2012). In response to the grave problems faced by Sheltering and Repatriation Centres and to the societal reactions to those incidents, the State Council issued the “measures for the Assistance and Administration of Urban Vagrants and Beggars Without Assured Living Sources” in 2003, and officially declared the end of the “Detention and Deportation Measures” (Gao, 2015; Zhang & McWhinney, 2012; Kennett, Jeon & Mizuuchi, 2012). The Custody and Repatriation Centres across China were converted into Aid Stations and major changes were brought into the practice of managing vagrants and beggars. The Custody and Repatriation Centres (1982–2003) implemented by Public Security and Civil Affairs targeted vagrants and beggars with the ‘three-withouts’, providing aid for fifteen days to one month, but through coercion and compulsory repatriation and by charging fees. In contrast, the Aid Stations (2003 until present) is implemented by Civil Affairs and voluntarily aids vagrant and beggars without “assured living sources” without any charge, for generally no more than ten days (Hong, 2004 as cited in Gao, 2015, pp. 128–129). This highlights changing state responses to urban vagrants and beggars in China, who are not officially defined as ‘homeless’.
Contemporary responses to homelessness in China Apart from Aid Stations, there are other non-government services that respond to homelessness in China. Non-government organizations (NGOs) include a number of initiatives, such as the Sunshine Community across China that focuses on children, and the Ruifeng Social Service Center in Beijing that provide outreach services for homeless people. However, these services tend to provide the homeless with information and referrals to Aid Stations. It is noted that international NGOs have seen a rapid rise in operations across China, mainly in the field of social development (Zhang & McWhinney, 2012). For example, the Renewal Center was registered as a foreign-owned consultancy company, as a drop-in resource center and employment assistance initiative for the homeless in Shanghai, providing services including showers, laundry, identity card (ID) assistance, and employment training programs. The Center received seventy to eighty visitors per week, mainly young males from rural areas, based on their own survey in 2009. Their services are complementary to the government-run Aid Stations but on a much smaller scale (Zhang & McWhinney, 2012).
Homelessness in China
Furthermore, there has been an increasing awareness and attention around domestic violence in recent years, and China’s first anti-domestic violence law took effect on March 1st, 2016. As pointed out by Speak (2004), domestic violence and family breakdown are contributing factors to women’s homelessness in developed as well as developing countries. A number of major cities in China have established domestic violence rescue center, to provide services to women, children, and senior citizens who experience domestic violence, including temporary shelter. For example, the Shanghai Anti-Domestic Violence Rescue Center offers accommodation services with a maximum seven-day stay for homeless people affected by domestic violence (Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, 2009). However, women escaping violence tend not to attend services and are often accommodated by family members. Since 2009, the Shanghai center only received eighteen people during a five-year period. Similarly, the Guangzhou City Anti-Domestic Violence Rescue Center received only six people during 2010 to 2014. These emerging responses to homelessness are in addition to the services provided by Aid Stations. This chapter focuses on Aid Stations as their services are the mainstream responses to homelessness across China. The Aid Stations are the main government response to people ‘Without Assured Living Sources’. The 2015 statistical report of China on the development of social services (Ministry of Civil Affairs, 2016) indicated that 1,766 Aid Stations and 275 Children Rescue and Protection Centers throughout the country provided a total of 3.7 million instances of assistance to vagrants and beggars, which included 518,000 instances of assistance outside of the stations. As stated in the ‘the Measures for the Administration of Relief for Vagrants and Beggars without Assured Living Sources in Cities’ (Order of the State Council of China No.381), Aid Stations offer the following services: food, accommodation, emergency medical services, contacting family services, and transportation vouchers to return home. Recipients have to meet all of the four following conditions: inability to afford food and accommodation; having no family, relatives or friends that they can depend on; not having the minimum living guarantees in cities or the five guarantees (food, clothing, medical care, housing, and burial expenses) in rural areas and are ‘roaming about’ and begging in the cities (Order the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China No. 24). According to the explanation of the Ministry of Civil Affairs (2014), the official definition of urban vagrants and beggars relates to being without assured living resources. Based on the current situation and practice, Liu (2010) argued that urban vagrants and beggars refers to ‘floating people’ who appear regularly or irregularly in the city and who engage in specific impression management to win people’s sympathy and compassion, to acquire resources, including money, food and clothing, in a non-labor form. Academic literature suggests that because there is no official typology of vagrants and beggars in China, certain typologies of begging based on different criteria, such as the extent of their living resources and the purposes of begging (Liu, 2010), should shape the responses of Aid Stations. Ying et al. (2006) classified vagrants and beggars into four types based on the purposes of begging, the features of their behaviours, the extent of their organization and social influences, which included prototypical, professional,
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operational, and gang types of beggars. Different means of management have been suggested according to this typology (Liu, 2010; Chen & Li, 2010), akin to being deserving or undeserving of government assistance. Prototypical beggars are individuals having no ability to work, who are driven by difficult living circumstances with the purpose of seeking to live, and it is deemed that they should be given aid in living. In contrast, the three other types of beggars are seen to be needing to be managed and socially controlled. These are: professional beggars who are individuals with a certain ability to work but beg with the purpose of seeking a livelihood; operational types of beggars who are organized in small groups with the purpose of making a profit, and gang types of beggars who are seen to have manipulative behaviours and are considered to endanger the society the most, are organized in large groups with controlled work distributions and aim to gain profit from begging (Chen & Li, 2010; Ying et al., 2006). These typologies of begging are difficult to categorize and are complicated. In practice, there is a wider range of service recipients of Aid Stations than those outlined in the implementation rules (Liu, 2010). According to the annual reports of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the total instance number of assistance to urban vagrants and beggars provided by Aid Management Stations throughout the country has increased steadily from 241,000 instances in 2011, to 3,705,000 instances in 2015. This rapid rise in demand, the temporary nature of assistance, and the ultimate goal of sending people back home have limited the relief work of Aid Stations to only meeting the basic survival needs of homeless people for a short period of time, and they are regularly repeating their rescue efforts (Kennett, Jeon & Mizuuchi, 2012; Liu, 2015).
The experience of homeless people and their responses to the Aid Station Despite the expanding number of aid recipients, there is a substantial portion of homeless people who decline the assistance of the Aid Stations, which has raised the attention of Civil Affairs Bureaus and the social media. The next section of the chapter highlights selected stories about the lived experience of homeless people in China and their perceptions of service systems. These accounts were mainly gathered from social media and highlight the perspectives of people who are elderly, young, disabled, in families and children. The elderly homeless In the context of vast social development in China, elderly people are bearing the costs and consequences of social and family change, such as changes in family structure, filial duty, and the increased mobility of adult children (Wu & Li, 2013). In Granny Zhu’s case, elder abuse was the direct cause for her homelessness. On a chilly morning in Nanjin’s railway station, Jiangsu Province (easterncentral coast of China), Granny Zhu was struggling searching the trash bin.
Homelessness in China
Zhu told the reporter that she slept in the underground garage of the railway station with a group of other people, and during the daytime, all of them would go out to make money. ‘I have been rescued by the aid station for seven times and I do not want to go back there. I am avoiding. Do you know that I have been beaten? My daughter-in-law beat me. I am not a real beggar’. (Chinese National Radio, 2012) A national survey of people aged over 65 years conducted by the National Working Committee on Women and National Statistics Bureau in 2010 revealed that the percentage of reported elder abuse within Chinese families was 13.3%. The prevalence of elder abuse in rural areas was much higher than in urban areas and overall, the problem in Western China was more severe than in Eastern China (Wu & Li, 2013). According to the 2012 data, the Aid Stations throughout the country provided a total of 290,000 instances of assistance to the elderly, comprising of 10% of the total assistance (OHCHR, 2014). Among this elderly homeless population, a number of elderly people have to make a living through begging after their adult children leave home and seek opportunities in cities. One example is the following case, Zhang from Anhui Province (in inland Southeast China): Our children have left for work and our grandchildren have been taken out with them. Now the whole family left my partner and me only. We cannot do the farm work. Our children will not come back and give us money until the Chinese New Year. Their life is not easy, either, working outside the whole year. We thought we could come to Shanghai and beg some money so that we can spend the time and have some income. (Liu, 2010, p. 23) The level of poverty experienced by elderly family members when they are unable to work in rural areas has contributed to homelessness and street begging in China. The young homeless It has also been noticed that young people with an education are emerging as a new group of homeless people. A reporter from the Shanghai Morning Post (Zhang, 2012) had a conversation with a number of younger homeless people in Renmin’s Park, one of the most popular gathering places for beggars in Shanghai. The following two stories highlight that homeless people are educated and that they are requesting more freedom than Aid Stations can offer. They report feeling ashamed, worried about being ‘sent back home’, and stigmatized. Beard Liu, a regular ‘resident’ in Renmin’s Park, was bothered being called a vagrant and claimed that he was not a rogue and lived a life at ease. He told the reporter that he graduated from secondary school and that he was not clear about his own age, around 20 or 30 something. When being asked the reason of not going to the Aid Station, he explained that he had lived in Aid Stations in other cities, for more than half a year, intermittently. His decision to leaving the Aid Station was
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because there was ‘not much freedom’; it was inconvenient for scavenging; and he worries about being sent back home . . . [He said] “At least I can read the newspaper when wandering around outside so that I still can use my brain. If there is free newspaper in Aid Stations and paper and pens that can be used to draw, the Aid Station could be a makeshift place for two nights in such chilly weather”. Another young person, Xiaoxue told a reporter that he was a college graduate and had left home for three to four years. He explained: ‘If you have a job, you need to rent a place to live, which is very costly’. He worked for a while but each month only about 300 yuan would be left for spending, while the income for one day through begging could be a hundred or two hundred yuan. He told the reporter that he had no intention of finding employment. His main reasons for not going to the Aid Station were also that he could not beg to earn money and feared being sent back home. He stated: ‘Now, the percentage of homeless people who graduate from high schools or colleges are increasing. In the countryside, we are considered to be welleducated. You have to register your personal information when going to the Aid Station. My town fellows think that I go someplace to earn decent money. I will be so disgraced if they know my real situation, so I would rather freeze myself outside, rather than go to the Aid Station’. (Zhang, 2012) This last story emphasizes the shame and stigma associated with the experience of homelessness, which acts as a barrier to accessing services and family supports. The disabled homeless The 2012 data of Aid Stations throughout China indicated that 186,000 instances of assistance were provided to the disabled and 142,000 to the severely ill or mentally handicapped, which was 11.8% of total instances of assistance (OHCHR, 2014). The example below highlights that despite receiving minimum benefits, disabled people are living in poverty, and with inadequate resources and social security in rural areas, they are begging in cities as a means of survival. Chen was a 62-year-old beggar in Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi Province. Back in 1979, 26-year-old Chen lost his two legs in a car accident. After his parents past away, he was helpless in his home town, so he came to the city and stayed there for fifteen years. Chen said that the colder it was, the less money he could receive from begging and more than ten yuan a day could only cover three meals. He said: ‘I have been to the Aid Station but they just sent me home after several days. The local government has built a house for me in the countryside and provided me the Minimum Living Standard Benefits, but still it is very challenging to survive in a rural area with a leg disability. Eventually, I beseeched someone to send me back to Nanning to continue begging’. (Zhao, Sun & Lin, 2016)
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The social media can provide disturbing insights into the complicated intergenerational factors that contribute to homelessness, the effects on children and limited supports for people with disabilities. For example, a website called ‘Thanksgiving China’ (Zhang, 2015) posted a story about a disabled family of beggars, with one blind father, one older daughter who is also blind and cannot walk, and another daughter with an intellectual disability. The younger daughter was raped in a small inn and then she gave birth to a little girl in 2011. The child’s fate has been the concern of many people who know this family. Many people donated money and items to support this little girl and one woman volunteered to look after her while the family went to other places to beg. The father tried to seek help from the local government. After two failed attempts, this family finally got the rural minimum living standard allowance of 53 yuan per person per month (in 2011). As it was impossible to live on this little amount of money, they had to leave home again and continue begging. The father found it increasingly difficult to make a living by begging, so he intended to take his granddaughter to beg. On February 2015, when the little girl knew that her grandfather was determined to take her begging, she fell sick. To avoid the girl being taken to become a beggar, the volunteer who looked after the girl signed a foster care agreement with the father, and was given consent to look after his granddaughter until she finished kindergarten. The expenses for raising this little girl came from online donations, which highlights strong community concern but also, that limited government welfare supports can contribute to causing homelessness. Homeless families with children With the increasing public concern about children and begging, on January 2015, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs released ‘Opinions on Legally Handling Several Issues on Guardian’s Infringement upon the Rights and Interests of Minors’. This document included one clause about legal guardians who coerce, lure, or use children to beg, affecting the minors’ life and study, noting that they will be forced to relinquish guardianship, if they refuse to correct their behaviours after receiving relevant education from public security organizations, Children Rescue and Protection Centres, or other departments, for more than three times. The Supreme People’s Court of China (2016) announced twelve typical cases against the interests of minors, involving guardianship being revoked. This related to the guardians not performing their duties, abusing the child sexually and physically and other acts that infringed upon children’s rights. However, there are very few cases of the actual revoking of guardianship because of homelessness and using children for begging. In Chinese society, raised public awareness about human trafficking and begging gangs has increased the sensitivity of the public to child beggars. It is common for people to call the police, report suspected human trafficking if they notice minor beggars, especially when young children are involved. Social media such as Weibo and Wechat have provided important platforms for people to post and
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disseminate information and exert influence at a broader social level. For example, a famous Weibo, called 随手拍照解救乞讨儿童 (Take a Photo, Save a Child), was established by Yu Jianrong in 2012, who used this as a platform, where internet users can post photographs of child beggars who are suspected to have been trafficked or abducted (Human Rights in China, 2012). The following case of a homeless child and family was first revealed through Weibo and Wechat. Since November 2014, the users of Weibo and Wechat in Lianyungang City of Jiangsu Province had been discussing a street girl, around 4 years old, begging with a gray long-haired vagrant who drove a motorized tricycle with a mentally ill wife. This triggered a heated discussion in the online community and then, the local newspaper (Lianyungang Daily) covered this news. After receiving several phone calls about suspecting that this little girl was a victim of human trafficking, the police went to investigate. The father, Wang, from Linyi City, Shandong Province, told the police that his wife had mental illness and that he begged with his daughter Hong and left his wife at home. One day, his wife ran away from home and it took a lot of time and effort to take her back. After this incident, Wang had to bring his wife and daughter with him begging. The police verified their identities, found that he was the father of this little girl and then left. With the help of residents, the local Aid Station found this family on November 19. Initially, Wang showed strong resistance to the staff in the Aid Station. After his daughter got into the rescue car, he followed her to the station. On November 20, the reporter went to the Aid Station and interviewed Wang. He stated that because of his wife’s mental illness, during the active symptoms of psychosis, she would hit people and it was impossible for her to look after the child. After his daughter was born, he raised the girl while scavenging. As he had to take care of his wife and daughter, he could not leave them and go to work, so he brought them with him begging. The staff in the Aid Station told the reporter that they had contacted civil affairs in Linshu County, Linyi City, Shandong Province. According to their hukou information, they knew that Wang had land and a house in his hometown and received the rural minimum living standard allowance – but, it was not a busy season in farming, so he went to other places to beg for money. Although they could not force them to go back, in consideration of child protection, the Aid Station escorted them home on November 21. However, after several days, this family came back to Lianyungang City begging. The reporter of Lianyungang Daily went to interview them again: “Hong, do you feel cold sleeping in the tricycle?”, asked the reporter. The little girl nodded and added, “We have no money back home, so we have to go out to beg for money”. “Why do you take Hong back here?”, the reporter asked Wang. He replied, “We don’t have money to feed ourselves. We are beggars at home and receive few money from begging, so I come back”. At the end of the media commentary, it was argued that people should not give money to professional beggars like Wang, although the reporter felt sorry and compassion towards that little girl (Li et al., 2014). This story illustrates that despite legislation to protect children from exploitation and despite the family receiving a minimum rural income, this does not protect children and families from the effects of poverty. Furthermore, there appears to be limited medical and social support that this family can access
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to address the mother’s mental illness. This family experiences the disabling effects of mental illness and have limited choices and social supports. Despite these systemic limitations, they have been labelled as being ‘professional’ beggars, with the associated social stigma. Media reports suggest that it is prevalent among beggars to not accept the assistance from Aid Stations because they will lose their income from begging or scavenging. For example, in the Pudong District of Shanghai, a middle-aged couple refused the assistance from the Aid Station as they were afraid of losing their source of income if they go to the Aid Station. “I do not accept the assistance. You can provide me food and drink, but my son still need us to look after”, the wife explained. The husband said: “If you put me into the aid station, I still have no money and how can I look after my children?” (Chinese National Radio, 2012). This implies that homelessness and begging are closely related to limited income support and family poverty. Homeless children without family According to the ‘2012–2015 Assessment Report on the Implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China’, there were 1,605 child welfare agencies and 407 independent Rescuing Protection Institutions, and the Aid Stations nation-wide provided 149,700 instances of assistance to children in 2015 (The State Council Information Office of China, 2016). Although roughly 150,000 instances of assistance are provided to homeless children by Aid Stations throughout China, there are a million to 1.5 million homeless minors in China, as estimated by The Women and Children Working Committee of the State Council Office survey (Tang, 2007). Compared to other homeless groups of people, there is a relative abundance of research about homeless children, including: analysis of the characteristics of urban street children (China Youth Research Center ‘Street Children’ Research Group, 2008); an ethnographic study of street children in the Shanghai Railway Station neighbourhood (Cheng, 2008); and research on the rescue of homeless minors, including social work practice in Aid Stations across China’s largest cities. The causes of homelessness among children are attributed to family issues (for example, child abuse and family breakdown), poverty, ruralurban migration, education system stress (for example, study stress and educational burdens) and personal issues (Cheng, 2009; Liu, 2010). The following story is from an ethnographic research study that interviewed a 14-year-old boy who had lived in the streets near the Shanghai Railway Station for five years (Cheng, 2009). I came to Shanghai when I was 9 years old. My mother died soon after I was born, and policeman took my father away because he stole things. Then, I had to live with my uncle, but he treated me badly and often beat me. I have never been to school, because he did not want to pay for it. I ran away from his home. I did not know how I came to Shanghai. All I could remember is that I climbed into a train and when it stopped, I arrived here. I miss my home. There is still five years left before my father being released. I need to stay here for a long time.
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In recent years, the issue of Chinese ‘left-behind’ children living in rural areas under the care of their relatives or friends while their parents live and work elsewhere has attracted considerable attention from the public and the government. These children are at great risk of homelessness and a number of them have already ended up being homeless, as the following case of a 16-year-old boy from Huaihua City, Hunan Province illustrates. Both my parents have left home to work outside and no one cares about me. I was bored at home. All of us six are from the same village. Last month, we heard that we could earn much money working in Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province, so we went there. Actually, that was piecework. We could not do it and we were only paid six to seven Yuan per day, which was not even enough for feeding ourselves, so we came to Shanghai together. We don’t have any money. We sleep at the Railway Station at night and go out together to beg money during the daytime. (Liu, 2010, p. 18) The Aid Stations have been the most successful when working with street children and returning them to their homes and families. The following story was provided by the Shanghai Morning Post: In 2006, 10-year-old Xiaotian was sent to the Aid Station in Shanghai by the police due to his behaviour of theft and refused to answer any questions. In the initial month, the staff in the Aid Station accompanied him watching TV, drawing, playing games and communicating with him. After several months, Xiaotian told the staff that he left his parents two years ago by climbing into a train to Shanghai and ended up becoming a homeless child, sleeping in the street and picking up things to eat. The Aid Station arranged a school for Xiaotian to continue his study and invited a cooking teacher to teach him, after finding out about his interest in cooking. Xiaotian stayed in the Aid Station for eight years and during this period of time, the staff continuously helped him search for his family through information distribution, screening, DNA matching, newspaper and internet posts. In 2015, with the help of the police, they traced Xiaotian’s cousin. Eventually, Xiaotian’s parents came to the Aid Station and this family reunited after eight-years of separation. (Xu, 2015) This section has highlighted the lived experiences of homelessness for children who have been abandoned, abused, and have no family to care for them; elderly people who are victims of abuse and living in poverty; young people who are educated but cannot find work; individuals and families affected by disabilities and poor families and their children from rural areas begging in the cities. These stories illustrate how homelessness in China is shaped by structural barriers, such as financial disadvantage, limited access to adequately paid employment, and the lack of medical, social and income support, with consequent marginalization from
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mainstream society. Homelessness as experienced through internal migration and rural poverty contributes to the life choices individuals and families are forced to make, which includes being supported by begging.
Emerging areas of consideration The lived experiences of and responses to homelessness in China highlight future areas for consideration, which include: further research on homelessness, officially defining homelessness, and addressing the restrictive responses and deficiency of current services. Promising social work responses to homelessness in China are also emerging. As there is limited research on homelessness in China, a considerable part of this chapter depended on the use of the social media to document lived experience of homelessness. Research on media constructions of homelessness found that the media is largely uncritical and misses the structural and systemic factors that contribute to the problem (Zufferey, 2014). Social media in China tends to dismiss the problem of homelessness as being about vagrants and beggars. They focus on visible deserving-undeserving issues, such as people begging or refusing services, and vulnerable children. For example, headings of media reports include: “The awkward situation of social assistance: ‘professional beggars’ refuse to accept aid” (Chinese National Radio, February 13, 2012); “Is it true that professional beggars can earn more than 10,000 yuan in one month?” (Chinese Network Television, November 6, 2013), and "Paying attention to and rescuing trafficked child beggars” (Sina Website, special column, February, 2011, continuously updated). There is a need for more rigorous and in-depth studies of homelessness in China, to provide further insights into the phenomenon and to inform policy and practice responses. As well, the absence of an official definition is a major obstacle to enumerating the extent of the problem of homelessness in China. It can cause difficulties and confusion for practitioners in providing services to homeless people. As a prerequisite for developing relevant policies and services to target assistance to the poorest group of its population, the Chinese government could start with an official definition of homelessness (Springer, 2000), which could inform service delivery. Various challenges are experienced in the service provision of Aid Stations, especially for those in big cities managing heavy workload. These are acknowledged by government policymakers and practitioners, eliciting discussions and suggestions about the operation of Aid Stations. The services provided by Aid Stations are restricted by government policies and funding, and staff having limited expertise, low pay, and poor working condition, associated with low motivation. This contributes to Aids Stations being only able to meet people’s basic survival needs, leaving the fundamental structural issues that lead to homelessness untouched (Hao, 2008; Kennett, Jeon & Mizuuchi, 2012; Liu, 2015). The current rescue model of Aid Stations unavoidably leads to repeated use of services (Pang, Gan & Liu, 2014), as highlighted in the stories of lived experiences of homeless people. In relation to these limitations, a number of suggestions are proposed in the literature, including relaxing and introducing relevant regulations and policy
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to guide more non-government organizations to provide relief services; expanding the range of services offered by Aid Stations; improving the rural social welfare system; the central government providing grants to relieve the financial pressure of Aid Stations, and increasing payment and working benefits to attract professionals to work in this field (Hao, 2008; Liu, 2015). The deficiencies of Aid Stations have become conspicuous, and with the increasing pressure of managing urban vagrants and beggars on major cities, local governments have started to take initiatives to tackle this issue. According to Information Times (2016), in November 2015, the Guangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau (Guangdong Province) had spent one million yuan purchasing a one-year contract for ‘social work intervention in vagrants and beggars’ from a local social work agency. These social workers offer outreach services, case management, referral services, tracking return visits, and other services. It was reported that since February 15, 2016, they had built files for 300 beggars and offered individual services for fortyfour people. This type of social work service to respond to vagrants and beggars was the first nationwide trial (Information Times, 2016). This could be indicative of local government’s attempt at changing responses to homelessness and a growing awareness about the unsustainability of the current Aid Station response in managing this group of people in the long term.
Conclusion Homelessness in China is closely connected to social changes that have occurred in the context of rapid economic and social development since the reform and opening-up policy. In this social context, floating populations have increased and are subjected to systemic barriers that contribute to their increased risks of homelessness. Rural migrants who become vagrants and beggars in urban areas are generally perceived to be the most visible homeless people in China. Although the social media has few intentions to deconstruct the social issues of vagrants and beggars in China, it is through their media reports that the lived experiences, voices, and struggles of visible homeless people in China are heard. Aid Stations are the government’s main responses to homelessness and tend to respond to vagrants and beggars in the scope of city management. As Aid Stations are the dominant service providers for homeless people, the restrictions on them, have increasingly been recognized. It is expected that social work and non-government organizations may play an increasing role in responding to homelessness in the future. However, to improve service responses to homelessness in China, it might be helpful to start with an official definition of homelessness and an acknowledgement of the issue at a broader level. Notably, innovative initiatives and responses to homelessness are emerging in China. Social workers in China are striving to establish their professional role. To ensure the survival of social work in its early stage under the circumstances of limited public understanding and legitimacy for this profession in China, the emphasis of their work has been on individual interventions. This individualized approach creates a dissonance for social workers in their roles of helping people
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accommodate to the status quo, while also challenging the status quo to bring about social justice and social change (Leung, 2012). However, despite avoiding challenging structural causes of social problems, social workers in China are discursively shifting constructions of homelessness through unfolding the personal and social facets as well as the political dimension of this problem (Leung, 2012). For example, Beijing Hefeng Social Work Office targets homeless people as their service group. The founder of this agency, Zhang Xiao, addressed these homeless people as ‘campers’, rather than with the pervasive ‘vagrants’ label, and held an itinerant exhibition in colleges to display the real life of the homeless (Chen, 2015). This highlights innovative approaches to homelessness in China and community responses that are emerging and continuing to change and evolve.
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Hao, Y.F.郝艺飞 (2008). Discussion of the relief management and strategies on urban vagrants and beggars浅谈我国城市流浪乞讨人员救助管理对策. Journal of Management 管理学刊, 21(3), 8–10. Human Rights in China. (2012). Take a photo, save a child. Retrieved October 7, 2016, from www.hrichina.org/en/crf/article/6457 Information Times.信息时报 (2016). Thanks to professional social workers, they are not drifting 因为专业社工他们不再流浪. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://epaper. xxsb.com/showNews/2016-02-17/292602.html Jin, Y.T.靳义婷 & Guo, J.F.郭婧斐 (2016). Present situation, causal analysis and solution method for poor family traditions当下社会不良家风的现状、原因分析及解决路径. Journal of Luoyang Institute of Science and Technology (Social Science), 31(2), 52–56. Kennett, P., Jeon, H.-G. & Mizuuchi, T. (2012). Homeless people in China/East Asia. In S.J. Smith (Ed.), International encyclopedia of housing and home. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 90–96. Kennett, P. & Mizuuchi, T. (2010). Homelessness, housing insecurity and social exclusion in China, Hong Kong, and Japan. City, Culture and Society, 1(3), 111–118. Leung, T. (2012). The work sites as ground of contest: Professionalisation of social work in China. British Journal of Social Work, 42, 335–352. Li, D.R., 李德锐 Xie, W.J., Qu, X., 瞿霞 & Zhou, Z. 周宗 (2014). Begging with father, singing English songs, where are you, cute homeless girl?随父沿街乞讨会唱英语儿歌 流浪“萌女孩”你在哪里. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from http://jsnews.jschina.com. cn/system/2014/11/19/022629172.shtml Li, T.李涛 & Ren, Y.任远 (2011). The reform of hukou system in Chinese cities and the social inclusion of floating population城市户籍制度改革与流动人口社会融合. South China Population, 26(3), 17–23. Li, W.李蔚 & Liu, N.刘能 (2015). Typology of residential space acquisition by migrant population: An analytical framework 流动人口居住空间获得的类型学：一个分析框 架. Journal of Jiangsu Administration Institute, 4, 67–73. Liang, Z., Li, Z. & Ma, Z.D. (2014). Changing patterns of the floating population in China, 2000–2010. Population and Development Review, 40(4), 695–716. Liu, D.S.刘德顺 (2006). Formation and evolution of professional beggars group social network based on field survey in Shanghai and Beijing职业乞丐群体社会网络的形成 与演变 – 以上海、北京两地的实地调查为基础(Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from www.usc.cuhk.edu.hk/PaperCollection/Details.aspx?id=4928 Liu, F.J. 刘芳均 (2010). The discussion of classification management model for vagrants and beggars: Using Shanghai Pudong Area as a case study (Master’s thesis)城市流浪 乞讨群体分类管理模式的探讨. Retrieved from China Masters’ Theses Full-text Database. (D632). Liu, Z.C.刘正才 (2015). The relief management and dealing strategies of urban vagrants: A case of researching the present situation of the relief management in Shanghai我国城 市流浪人员的救助管理与完善对策 – 以调研上海市救助管理现状为例. Shanghai Urban Management, 3, 53–56. Ministry of Civil Affairs. (2014). Institution working rules for measures for the administration of relief for vagrants and beggars without assured living sources in cities《生活无 着的流浪乞讨人员救助管理机构工作规程. Order of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China No.24. & Order of the State Council of China No. 381. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from www.mca.gov.cn/article/zwgk/fvfg/shsw/201406/20140600657249.shtml Ministry of Civil Affairs. (2016). 2015 Statistical report on the development of social services 2015年社会服务发展统计公报. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from www.mca. gov.cn/article/sj/tjgb/201607/20160700001136.shtml
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National Bureau of Statistics of China. (2011). Communiqué on major figures of the 2010 population census (no. 1). Retrieved September 15, 2016, from www.stats.gov.cn/english/ NewsEvents/201104/t20110428_26449.html Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). (2014). Replies of China to the list of issues (E/C.12/CHN/Q/2/Add.1). Retrieved August 24, 2016, from http:// tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/TBSearch.aspx?Lang=en&TreatyID=9 &DocTypeID=22&ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_radResultsGridChangePage=2 Pang, M.J., 潘梦婕Gan, N., 甘诺 & Liu, X.刘欣 (2014). The analysis of the causation for street children and the innovation of relief model流浪儿童主要成因分析及救助模式 创新. Social Welfare, 1, 26–30. Rosenheck, R.A. (2011). Homelessness in China and the West. Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry, 23(4), 231–232. Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. (2009). Shanghai anti-domestic violence rescue center has established to provide temporary assistances. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from www. shmzj.gov.cn/gb/shmzj/node4/node13/node810/userobject1ai23887.html Shen, Q. & Huo, X.L. (2011, June). Spatial distribution pattern change of Chinese migration in recent 10 years. Paper presented at the 19th International Conference on Geoinformatics. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/GeoInformatics.2011.5981079 Sina. (2011). Paying attention to and rescuing trafficked child beggars关注解救被拐乞讨 儿童. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://news.sina.com.cn/z/jjet/index.shtml Speak, S. (2004). Degrees of destitution: A typology of homelessness in developing countries. Housing Studies, 19(3), 465–482. Springer, S. (2000). Homelessness: A proposal for a global definition and classification. Habitat International, 24, 475–484. The State Council Information Office of China. (2016). Assessment report on the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012–2015) 《国家人 权行动计划2012至2015年评估报告》. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from www.scio. gov.cn/zxbd/wz/Document/1480082/1480082_3.htm The Supreme People’s Court of China. (2016). Typical cases against the interests of minors, involving guardianship being revoked 最高人民法院关于侵害未成年人权益被撤销监 护人资格典型案例. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from www.court.gov.cn/zixun-xiangqing21481.html Tang, X.Q.唐小乔 (2007). The custody transfer of homeless minors流浪未成年人监护权 的转移. China Social Welfare, 6, 34–35. Tipple, G. & Speak, S. (2009). The hidden millions: Homelessness in developing countries. London: Routledge. World Bank. (2016). China overview. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from www.worldbank. org/en/country/china/overview#1 Wu, X.G. (2012). Arthur Sweetman, Jun Zhang (Eds.): Economic transitions with Chinese characteristics vol. 2: Social change during thirty years of reform. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 17(1), 99–100. Wu, X.L.伍小兰 & Li, J.李晶 (2013). The current situation and cause of elder abuse in China中国虐待老人问题现状及原因探析. Population & Development, 19(3), 85–91. Xu, Y.F.徐妍斐 (2015, July 5). After being sent to the Aid station for five years, the street child becomes a sunshine boy after eight years流浪儿被送救助站8年后成阳光男孩. Shanghai Morning Post. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from http://newspaper.jfdaily.com/ xwcb/html/2015-07/05/content_109955.htm Ying, R.P.,应若平 Wang, J.,王健 Huang, P.,黄碧 & Yan, H.颜欢 (2006). From mandatory, voluntary to management sub-type management mode of assisting urban vagrants and
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beggars从强制、自愿到管理 – 城市流浪乞讨人员救助的分型管理模式. Sociology社 会学, 4, 17–22. Zhang, B.S.张宝石 (2004). Urban beggar groups and social relief in China中国城市乞丐 群落与社会救济(The third prize work of the 9th “challenge cup” National College Student Curricular Academic Science and Technology Works Competition). China Youth University of Political Sciences, Beijing, China. Zhang, J.张军 (2010). Analysis of the welfare culture in social security system: Based on the historical and comparative angles社会保障制度的福利文化解析. Chengdu: Southwestern University of Finance and Economics Press. Zhang, H.M. (2014). China’s social assistance policy: Experiences and future directions. China Journal of Social Work, 7(3), 219–236. Zhang, H.X. & McWhinney, J. (2012). Working with the homeless: The case of a non-profit organisation in Shanghai. Local Economy, 27(4), 373–387. Zhang, R.J.张仁杰 (2015, April 13). Wish Kexin grows up quickly希望可欣快快长大. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from www.owecn.com/help/20150413/2015041334895. html Zhang, Y. (2012, December 7). Sensitive vagrants intentionally keep distance from warmth: Except the living assistance, we need to consider the assistance at a psychological level 敏感流浪者刻意与温暖保持距离. Shanghai Morning Post. Retrieved August 25, 2016, from http://newspaper.jfdaily.com/xwcb/html/2012-12/07/content_934162.htm Zhao, G.,赵刚 Sun, Q.,孙琪 & Lin, M.M.林苗苗 (2016, January 17). Why urban vagrants and beggars would rather be cold than go to the Aid station冬季城市流浪乞讨人员为 何宁愿挨冻，也不去救助站. Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://news.xinhuanet.com/2016-01/17/c_1117799997.htm Zufferey, C. (2014). Questioning representations of homelessness in the Australian print media. Australian Social Work, 67(4), 525–536.
Living homeless in urban India State and societal responses Kalpana Goel and Richa Chowdhary
Introduction The extent and magnitude of homelessness in major urban Indian cities has risen enormously in the past few decades. In India, there are approximately one million homeless people living on the streets in urban areas of the country (Census of India, 2011). The abandonment and destitution of the aged, infirm, mentally ill, poor divorced women, single pregnant women, girl children, and dependent parents was previously unheard of. However, this has become the main cause of homelessness in Indian society today. This raises questions about the values on which contemporary Indian society is founded, and the extent to which it supports its most vulnerable population groups to retain their dignity and worth. Furthermore, the lack of government cognizance of and initiatives to improve the conditions of homeless persons in India ensures that those who are homeless will remain that way. This chapter examines the lived experiences of homeless people who were found on the streets in debilitating conditions, referred and brought by state officers and community members to a civil society organization called ‘Earth Saviours’. We argue for a change in values and attitudes at a broader societal level to address the problems of growing homelessness in urban cities of India. Structural issues such as widespread poverty in rural and urban areas, unemployment, and the lack of access to affordable housing, are well-known causes of homelessness, especially in developing countries. In recent times, an emphasis is being placed on economic growth and development, without an equal emphasis on the promotion of a more equal distribution of wealth, leaving a widening gap between the rich and the poor. The policies of neo-liberalism, free market economy and privatization underpinning the delivery of basic human services have been instrumental in leaving many disadvantaged, marginalized persons, and households ‘homeless’ in the urban centres of India. We focus on these are people who do not have shelter and have lost their ‘home’. There are many men and women in India who are destitute or in crisis, living on the streets (Shah & Sharma, 2014; Speak, 2013). This population group is in a vulnerable position as they have no means to meet their basic needs, feel fearful and insecure, and are often emotionally affected by their experiences. The reasons for becoming homeless can vary amongst the destitute homeless, and everyone’s
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experience is different. Some people have lost their homes because of personal and household crises, including family bereavement, family disputes or break-up. These people fall in the ‘crisis category’ of homeless people who live on the streets, without having any choice and control over their situation (Speak, 2004, p. 447). Having faced dejection, rejection, and ostracism from close family members can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and other forms of severe mental health issues (Shah & Sharma, 2014). Although it can be argued that structural conditions are similar for many poor and marginalized people in a homeless situation, individual experiences of becoming homeless could vary due to their unique socio-cultural and political positions in society (Tripathi, 2014). It is thus important to know the subjective lived experiences of people in a homelessness situation, to define what homelessness means to them (Tripathi, 2014; Speak, 2013). The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to building knowledge about these lived experiences and societal values that underpin how homelessness is experienced. We draw upon the conceptual framework presented by Speak (2013) in understanding how values shape broader societal changes and structural aspects that cause homelessness. It highlights how individuals, and households are positioned in relation to these changes that enhance their vulnerability to homelessness (Speak, 2013, p. 143). Speak (2013, p. 144) presents a two-axis conceptual framework. A horizontal axis is about ‘causation’ spanning from individual factors to structural factors. A vertical axis crossing the causation axis represents ‘meaning’ that could be understood by using an ‘interpretivist’ approach, which leads to interpreting the meaning of homelessness as perceived by the homeless persons. Intersecting these two axes is ‘value’ delineating the meaning attached to the homelessness phenomenon. The destitute street homeless are the particular group that this chapter is focused on. A number of single men and women were found in a debilitating condition on the streets and pavements of a large metropolitan city of India, Delhi, having been abandoned by their loved ones. They were identified by the volunteers of ‘Earth Saviours’ (a civil society organization working for the rescue and care of homeless people in the city of Delhi) and brought to their ‘home’. These people had their own story to tell about how they had become homeless and their experiences of homelessness. In this research, we analyzed their stories and identified different values to explain and interpret the state of homelessness, especially in Indian culture.
A lived experience approach This chapter reports on the lived experiences of six homeless adults including both men and women who were located on the streets of Delhi by the volunteers of ‘The Earth Saviour’. The organization has been working since 2008 and is located in the National Capital Territory, Gurgoan, close to Delhi. The second author visited the organization to interview a few residents of the home to elicit experiences of homelessness from their perspective. A phenomenological approach is being used to illuminate the lived experiences of homelessness under three categories: reasons for becoming homeless; living on the streets of Delhi as a homeless person; and life
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in the ‘The Earth Saviour’ home for homeless people. A phenomenological approach is most suitable to analyze lived experiences as it is concerned with how things appear in one’s own experiences (Smith, 2004). Through understanding the context and specific circumstances of these people, this approach yielded insights into the beliefs, values, and culture of the broader society towards homelessness and homeless persons. The findings are then discussed and interpreted to discern individual and societal values that contribute to the vulnerability of homeless people.
Political values and the politicization of homelessness The politicization of homelessness in India is examined by exploring themes in the literature that highlight: how homelessness is conceptualized, the denial of the rights of citizens, the criminalization of the homeless as beggars, the lack of access to appropriate shelters and affordable housing, and the continual displacement of people living on the streets by government officials. Conceptualization of homelessness in India The issue of defining homelessness has been contested on several grounds. The main argument revolves around whether homelessness means a person living without an adequate shelter, or whether it means losing their ‘home’ which relates to loss of family connections and relationships. The United Nations Economic and Social Council Statement [UNESC] (2014, p. 2) view the issue of homelessness as more than an absence of shelter: When we are talking about housing, we are not just talking about four walls and a roof. The right to adequate housing is about security of tenure, affordability, access to services and cultural adequacy. It is about protection from forced eviction and displacement, fighting homelessness, poverty and exclusion. Based on extensive global research, Busch-Geertsema, Culhane and Fitzpatrick (2016) have postulated a broad-based global homelessness framework, to be used as a frame of reference for a cross-national engagement in this field. It comprises three categories of homeless population, namely, people without accommodation; people living in crisis and temporary accommodation; people living in severely inadequate and/or insecure accommodation. Busch-Geertsema, Culhane and Fitzpatrick (2016) recommend that an international effort towards addressing global homelessness could focus on a narrow definition that includes the first two categories of people who do not have a shelter and live in places unsuitable for human habitation. The third category could be used in specific local and national contexts, as the service context may be different in different parts of the world that will affect the enumeration of persons in the respective country. In India, it is the census authorities who count the number of homeless in each state and territory, and this is considered reliable data for official policy and
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planning purposes (Bannerjee, 2002). The Census of India (2001) defines a homeless household as ‘houseless’ persons who are not living in a census household and found living in the open, on the roadside, pavement, in concrete pipes, under flyovers and staircases, in open places of worship, or on railway platforms. However, the enumeration of this population group poses certain challenges and the ‘point in time’ method of counting carried out throughout the nation is not sufficient to capture the magnitude of people who are homeless. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) conducted a survey of homeless people in Delhi in 2010, and for a more inclusive count, they adopted a much broader definition than the census. It included men, women, eunuchs, and children who do not have a home or settled place, and it included people not only living in open places – but also people living in night shelters, transit homes, children homes for a short-term stay, and people sleeping in work places or in their hand/push carts and in temporary structures at construction sites (UNDP, 2010). This definition provided a much broader scope, to include people who work in the informal sector and are homeless. The Census of 2011 in India documents that there were 938,348 homeless people living in urban areas of the country, including 46,724 in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. However, the actual numbers of homeless populations in Delhi is much greater than what has been enumerated through the census. The IndoGlobal Social Service Society (IGSSS) (2008) (an international NGO) counted the number of homeless persons to be 88,410 (Tingal & Pandey, 2008); whereas the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), a state government organization, estimated that at least 1% of the total population of Delhi is homeless; that is, of the 15 million persons currently residing in Delhi, 150,000 thousand persons are homeless. The media reports that in Delhi, the government census data on homeless persons is inadequate, as the number of people and households who are homeless is triple this figure of 46,724 homeless persons. Non-governmental organizations such as Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA), who themselves took part in the 2011 census count of homeless people with state authorities, reported that insufficient time was spent in enumeration and that not all places were visited to capture the actual numbers. The views of human rights activist Indu Prakash Singh from AAA were reported, by journalist Rukmini, in the leading newspaper in India, The Hindu as follows: “Delhi has at least 1.5 lakh (150,000) homeless people. Thousands of homeless people were not enumerated during the census,” Mr. Singh, who was present when enumerators conducted the survey in New Delhi, said the Census sent too few people and they spent too little time. ‘In our eyes, the homeless census was a fraud and a farce’, Mr. Singh said. The impact of under-counting the homeless was that too few funds were allocated for them. (The Hindu, Dec 08, 2013) Thus, it is argued that the magnitude of the issue of homelessness in the metropolitan city is much bigger than what is being projected by the government. The intention to count fewer numbers of homeless people is closely linked with what the
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government would like to recognize as a social issue and thus, allocate funds for services to address it. It is evident from the above definitions that the state has largely considered the lack of a house/abode, people using temporary or open places to sleep, as homelessness. However, there are two ways of looking at the issue of homelessness: one is the absence of a shelter or inadequate shelter that is temporary, insecure, and inhabitable. The other aspect of homelessness is non-materialist and relates to the concept of ‘home’, losing contacts with family, friends and kinship networks, and feelings of exclusion and dejection associated with it. According to Kellett and Moore (2003, p. 137) “part of the experience of homelessness is the feeling of being socially and culturally excluded”. Denial of rights to citizenship Becoming homeless also means losing rights to citizenship. Homeless people are not accorded a voter identity card and ration card in India, a card that entitles them to acquire food and goods from the Public Distribution System [PDS]. These two cards are required as proof if you want to open a bank account or access health services and even to lodge a complaint with the police. A survey undertaken by UNDP India in 2010 reported that only 3% of homeless people had a voter ID and the rest did not have any identity proof. This marginalizes and excludes them from their full participation as citizens. Many homeless people have reported a change in their status and having acquired dignity once they received their voter ID through the efforts of AAA in 2011 and 2012. For example, one person who received their voter ID said: “for more than ten years, I was nameless and non-existent in Government records. Today I have become a citizen in the government record, thanks to Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan for all fight” (AAA, 2010–2013, p. 23). Criminalization of the homeless as beggars The weakening of state responsibility towards homeless people and the prioritization of individual responsibility to be housed is largely evident in the state policy and planning of services for the homeless population in India. The state views homeless people on the streets as ‘beggars’ and treats them as ‘criminals’ under ‘The Prevention of Begging Act’, 1959, detaining them in a beggar’s home run by the state government department. People who are found wandering or congregating near religious places are then caught and detained to serve a term in the beggar home under the law. They lose the freedom to move out of the beggar home until charges against them have been dropped by the Jury. Therefore, losing their own home becomes a criminal offence and then, they receive punishment by losing their freedom as a citizen. This Act which is regarded as hostile towards the most vulnerable people of the society is still prevalent, although NGOs like AAA working for homeless persons have been advocating to repeal it (Speak & Tipple, 2006). Furthermore, policymakers and state bureaucrats identify the main causes of homelessness as being associated with individual issues such as mental illness,
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drug and alcohol misuse, domestic violence, and relationship breakdowns. This directs responsibility to the individual, who is perceived as not keeping up with the standards and norms of the society, and who has personal issues that contribute to them becoming homeless. Policies around the deinstitutionalization of care for mentally ill people (Pinto, 2009), and subsequent abandonment of a family member with mental illness by the family, have also given rise to the number of people on the streets who suffer from mental illness (Speak, 2004). Provision of temporary and permanent shelter Moreover, the government has adopted minimum responsibility towards providing their citizens with shelter and meeting their basic human needs, such as water, food, toilets, and a safe and secure place (see Walters, 2014 for water and sanitation inadequacy in Indian cities for homeless persons). There are only sixty-four permanent night shelters in the city of Delhi, and media reports indicated that a decision was made to open eighty-six temporary shelters for people sleeping rough in the winter season of 2010–2011 (Bhatt & Jamil, 2012). With the change of government in the state of Delhi in 2014, further media announcements were made to open 100 Porta cabins for homeless people in Delhi (Dhapola, 2014). However, there is no clarity in the media reports on the actual number of these shelters and their operations since these announcements. Night shelters house people on the street overnight and are not completely free: occupants must pay the nominal charge of six Rupees per person (less than 10 cents) for a night’s stay, and if they want to stay during the day, then they again pay the same amount. Many people living ‘on the street’ are unable to afford to pay this amount and thus, choose not to utilize the facility (Koshish-TISS, 2009, pp. 19–20). These shelters are often deemed unfit for residing in by the street people, as they find them dirty, uninhabitable and they are unable to secure their belongings. Especially, those homeless who are entrepreneurs and self- employed, who have no parking place for their three-wheel hand carriage (called rickshaw): “We prefer sleeping on the pavement. The night shelters are full of bed bugs, the blankets are stinking and, worse, one has to pay for this filthy facility” (Menon, 2001, cited in Speak & Tipple, 2006, p. 182). Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) is a state body responsible for setting up night shelters and overseeing their maintenance and function. This department has been questioned by the Supreme Court of India for ignoring the upkeep of these shelters and having fewer shelters than warranted (Bhatt & Jamil, 2012). Advocacy bodies argue that the government adopts a policy of denial of the magnitude of need by counting fewer people as ‘homeless’ (AAA, 2010–2013). Eviction and displacement of homeless people Another big challenge that street homeless people are facing relates to the demolition of people’s temporary shelters, slums, and the forced movement of homeless people from one area to another. An example of the demolition of temporary
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shelters and ‘cleaning’ of footpaths and pavements of people who are considered undesirable on the streets in Delhi has been reported in the news magazine First Post: An incident of bulldozing temporary make shift living arrangements of 1000 homeless people took place on 26th December when Delhi is engulfed in cold waves. These residents in ‘Mansarover Park’ in Delhi were not informed about the eviction, neither were they provided with temporary shelter. One of the residents reported to the First Post: “Four bulldozers turned up in the morning and started razing everything” (Dhapola, 2014). According to BanerjeeGuha (2011, p. 2), as a result of neoliberal urbanism, The sight of poor and homeless in contemporary cities is no longer seen with sympathy, the uppish middle class population – earlier dwelling on progressive thoughts and carrying apology of denying justice to the poor – have not only become nonchalant enough to shut the homeless out but even contribute in making strategies legal or non-legal – to prove the latter’s right over the urban space as illegal. This quote points to changing socio-cultural values in India and increasing divisions between the rich and the poor.
Changing socio-cultural values South Asian communities are known as collectivist societies and the extended family plays a pivotal role in the social organization of relationships. A very high value is placed on familial obligations towards children, women, and parents. The adult children in the family, especially male members of the household, have a duty to look after their parents as a religious obligation (SuryaNarayan, 1998, cited in Jamuna, 2003, p. 129). Filial piety is the core value in most of the religious doctrines in Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism (Croll, 2006). However, in the last few decades, changes have been noted in the family structure and its functioning. Many factors have been noted in the literature that have caused changes in the traditional family structures, including industrialization and urbanization processes that require men (and women) to travel far from home to find work (Prashad, Lhungdim & Dutta, 2016). Currently, changes in the political economy have given rise to dual earner, nuclear families (D’Cruz & Bharat, 2001). One could say that priorities have changed drastically where the modern family is more childcentred and child focused but children have reduced capacity to fulfil their filial duty to the elderly, or are unwilling to do so (Croll, 2006). The rise of individualistic values in the era of modernization and globalization has weakened filial bonds in modern families across urban and rural areas in India (Jamuna, 2003). The overall perception of people in power in the metropolitan city towards homeless persons is that they are antisocial and unclean, and thus society needs to remove
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them from places which are meant for socialized and morally good people. According to Mander (2008, cited in Prasad, 2012, p. 73), people living on the streets are perceived as “vaguely dangerous and intractably on the wrong side of the law”. Certain labels are used to identify homeless persons that rupture their dignity and deny them equal rights as citizens. Some terms are commonly used in local languages to address homeless people. People found near religious places are referred to as bhikari (beggars) and generally religious-minded people offer them food and sweets (Prasad – offered to God). Due to their unhygienic conditions, they are considered achoot meaning ‘untouchables’ and people avoid coming close to them and touching them. Some are considered pagal (meaning mentally ill) if they appear and behave in a bizarre manner. People wandering close to railway stations, bus stations and market places are regarded as chor (thief ), and members of the general public cautiously walk on the roads to safeguard their purses, gold chains, and luggage. As well, homeless women and young girls are looked down upon as having loose moral standards and approached by some men as prostitutes. Destitution of women The notion of destitution refers to lacking the means to meet one’s basic needs of food, shelter, water, health, warmth, and being devoid and deprived of means of subsistence. According to Harriss-White (2005, p. 883), “destitution is not simply an outcome of market exchange or market failures to be measured in the monetary domain alone, it is also the lack of enfranchisement and entitlement which are not price mediated but governed by social norms”. Experiences of destitution are affected by changing societal belief systems and values, the worth associated with population groups according to age, sex, and class and the breakdown of family relationships, trust, and ties. This has often affecting women who are devalued in a patriarchal society (Shah & Sharma, 2014). For example, although violence against women and women’s subjugated position in society is a world-wide phenomenon, its manifestation and scale in Indian Hindu society is paradoxical. On the one hand, women are regarded as having very high status, placing them equivalent to Goddess Luxmi, Durga, Saraswati [names of female Hindu deities], whose idols are worshipped regularly. On the other hand, the primacy of patriarchal hierarchy in the society delegates a subordinate position to women as compared to men. Patriarchy manifests itself in different forms in varying contexts. There is ample research that shows that violence against women is perpetrated by men, especially by the husband and the husband’s family (Anitha, Roy & Yalamarty, 2016). Patriarchal values enforce women’s subjugated position through mechanisms of social control, intimidation, and coercion. In India, the woman loses her ‘home’ after marriage, as she is considered an outsider from her parental family and is not considered an insider in her husband’s family. A woman enters her husband’s family after marriage and is supposed to adapt and adjust to the culture of the husband’s family. She needs to satisfy their material needs by bringing money and expensive goods from her parental house. She is supposed to carry out all the household chores and look after every member of the family in good
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spirits. Such values become more evident when a woman is being tortured, humiliated, and abused, to an extent that she is either compelled to leave the house or attempt suicide as a last resort. Acharya and Biswas (2014) conducted a study on depression and feelings of hopelessness among destitute women in Tripura state of India. The study reported a very high percentage of women suffering from depression, hopelessness, lower self-esteem, and destitution. The norms around unacceptable behaviour, physical appearance, disablement, incapacity, the societal status of the divorcee, widow, or deserted wife is distinct but varied in different cultural and social groups in Indian society. These norms become “culturally legitimized; and society actively allows oppressive practice; and the state is often complicit in the process” (Harriss-White, 2005, p. 884). Groups that largely become destitute or who are abandoned by the family and society include: people belonging to lower caste groups; disabled, infirm, frail people who have a deformity and people who look unhealthy, unkempt due to drug and alcohol consumption; widowed women and men; and young children and adults who have been victims of sexual violence. Stigma is also attached to physical ailments affecting some people experiencing homelessness such as tuberculosis or leprosy. The value of social relationships Biswas-Diener and Diener (2006) researched homeless people in three places, Calcutta (India), California (Fresno) and Portland (Oregon), on self-perceived life satisfaction with three main domains: material, social, and self. The findings of this study highlighted the importance of social relationships with friends, family, and other societal members, above the material domain. The study does not say that material satisfaction is unimportant; however, it argues that ‘relatedness’ rivals physical needs, and that ‘good relationships’ can lead to ‘happiness’ (Sheldon et al., 2001; Diener & Seligman, 2002, cited in Biswas-Diener & Diener, 2006, p. 201). The study presents a possible explanation for the higher level of self-satisfaction in the Indian city of Calcutta where the communist political party is powerful and their ideology is pro-poor, thus resulting in less ‘persecution and marginalization’ of the poor. Despite widespread poverty and lower economic conditions compared to other regions of India, there is societal acceptance and less stigma attached to being in an extreme poverty situation (Biswas-Diener & Diener, 2006, p. 200). This highlights how political and macro-level structures can have an impact on the subjective well-being of people living in the condition of homelessness.
Lived experiences of persons in homeless situations: findings and discussion To gather their perspectives of homelessness, six residents of the ‘Earth Saviours’ were interviewed, who had been residing in this home for homeless people for the last two to five years. The insights drawn from the narratives of the interviewees are presented and discussed in three broad categories: experiences of becoming
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homeless, experience of living on the streets, and their current living experience. Pseudonyms have been used to maintain confidentiality of the participants. The experience of becoming homeless Each interviewee experienced becoming homeless differently, in the context of multiple societal values that created conditions leading to homelessness. Women generally became homeless at a younger age (below 40) and reported domestic violence, physical and psychological abuse by their husband and his family. Sita and Mamta Devi’s stories were compelling and revealed patriarchal values that resulted in the dehumanizing positions of women in their in-laws’ house. Dowry (a practice where money or in-kind goods are sought from the bride’s family) was reported as the main cause of dispute after marriage, leading to atrocities, domestic violence, and abandonment after marriage. Dowry is a long-entrenched practice in marriages in India. Women from poor families are reported to be a victim of dowryrelated domestic violence more than women from an upper class, whose parents could afford to meet the demands of the groom’s family (Sriniwasan & Bedi, 2007, cited in Anitha, Roy & Yalamarty, 2016; Shah & Sharma, 2014). As Sita reported, Then a day came when my in-laws tried to extract money from my parents and at times they wished to arrange a second marriage for their son so as to secure a second dowry. The demands of dowry were increasing as the time passed in marriage. They started threatening me. Mamta Devi, a 28-year-old woman who was illiterate also narrated a terrifying tale of torment at the hands of her in-laws. I was not allowed to keep contact with my family. My husband and his mother used to beat me saying that I come from a poor family and my parents did not give money to feed her. I used to sleep without food for several nights. However, it is not just the dispossession of money and property affecting women. It is the socio-cultural values about a woman’s place after marriage being only in her husband’s house that denies women refuge in her parental house. Thus, in the event of desertion by their husband and his family, this forces women to live on the streets as a homeless person, as evident in the case of Sita – or they take refuge in shelter homes. Similar stories were shared by Speak (2013, p. 147) and Acharya and Biswas (2014). Sita reported, When I disclosed this to my parents they suggested me to adjust with my inlaws. My mother tried to make me understand that ‘Girl’s house after marriage is her in-laws. We can keep you until we are alive; however, who will look after you after our death?’ Then, the only alternative left to me was to commit suicide and I took the extreme step. Fortunately, one of my neighbors made a phone call to the police and my life was saved.
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Sita was cared for as long as both her parents were alive; however, soon after their death, her three brothers refused to take care of her and she ended up on the streets. Meena, another resident of Earth Saviour, belonged to a poor family. She was lured to work in a city by one of her relatives who cheated her and sold her to a brothel for money. One day she ran away from there and ended up on the streets of Delhi. I was being cheated by one of my relatives on the pretext of job. He took me to Delhi, abused me sexually and left in a brothel for which he got the money. Somehow I managed to escape from there and stayed on the street for around seven years and worked as a laborer in a factory. Similar stories of deception and exploitation of young women on the pretext of getting jobs is well-recorded in the literature. A study conducted by Goel (2011) on domestic workers in Delhi corroborates the story of Meena where many girls were lured to work in the city and were sexually exploited by known persons. Women feared to return to their village/home as no-one would accept and trust their purity after leaving parental home (Goel, 2014). The stories of homeless men revealed different societal perspectives and values forcing them to live in homeless situations. Saurabh, a young man who had a conflict with his parents and left home, recounts: I left my parents’ house after a fight with them and came to the city. I contacted one of my friend and when I told him that I had left home and nowhere to go, he turned his face and did not support me. I could not go back as I had no money, and did not want to . . . so I came on street. Such examples are not specific to Indian culture. There are many studies which have reported family disputes as one of the main causes of homelessness of young people in the world (Williams & Stickley, 2011, Martijn & Sharpe, 2006, cited in Williams & Stickley, 2011). Kumar, who came from a poor family, became homeless after a family tragedy that denied him his sense of place in society: “I lost my wife and two daughters in an accident. I had no one to care for me. I lost everything and started wandering on the streets. My mind was not stable”. Ramratan’s story highlights diminishing filial bonds and changing intergenerational values, where economic motives and control of ownership of property prevailed over caring for an older person at home (See also Croll, 2006): Ramratan in his mid-50s became homeless as both his son and daughter cheated on him and tried to abduct his property which he got after his father died. Children did not look after him and would lock him up in a room without food. He somehow escaped and wandered on the road since. These stories have highlighted how gendered violence, elder abuse, family conflict, poverty, the lack of government and formal support mechanisms, combined
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with limited or no family support, and a public attitude of apathy, has contributed to these women and men becoming homeless. Experience of living on the streets The experiences of living on the streets were not positive for any of the interviewees. They recounted shocking stories of physical, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse. The majority described living on the street with limited food, and no place to sleep and keep their belongings. Sita faced very bad days while on the street: People were behaving very roughly and rudely. Once I was being beaten up by a group of people saying that I had stolen money from somebody’s wallet, which was not true . . . I have experienced verbal abuse and threatening behavior of the people while I was on the street. I was scared to access the basic services as these services are meant for all (like toilets). Many times, I developed the feelings of committing suicide. Meena experienced being ridiculed, tortured physically, and exploited sexually while she worked in a factory and when living on the street. Meena recounted: “I was being continuously sexually abused by the factory owner. When I opposed I was told to leave the job. I gave birth to a child on the street and was surviving somehow”. Mamta Devi reported similar experiences of being abused, tortured, raped, and exploited while on the street. She stayed on the street for around six months. Due to the continued sexual exploitation and physical violence, she suffered severe mental imbalance, when ‘rescued’. The powerlessness of all the women who were sleeping rough and living on the streets was evident in their stories. All three women were sexually exploited and abused and regarded as having loose morals. This relates back to societal values of patriarchy, where men are considered superior, and they exercise their authority and power by abusing and exploiting women (Anitha, Roy & Yalamarty, 2016). Saurabh, a young male who left his house and lived on the streets after an argument with his parents reported his experiences on the street as follows: Nothing good comes from telling people that you are homeless. Due to depression, I started smoking and drinking. I started pickpocketing and was being beaten up by people at several occasions. I was never getting more than a few hours of sleep. Kumar, who became homeless after losing his family and who experienced miserable hardships on the street, said: While on the street, many a times I did not have anything to eat. During the winter, I used to sleep on cold hard floors and used a headband over my eyes to block the bright overhead light. When it was hot, the mosquitoes ate me while sleeping. It was a very hard time on the streets. Once I was ill very badly but
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nobody took me to the hospital. The policeman wanted money even for lying under the flyover. People start labelling you when you are on the street irrespective of your past happenings. When I was homeless I looked and felt terrible. These stories highlight how life on the streets was perceived by society and the values that guided some people’s behaviour towards homeless persons. Societal perceptions of homeless persons as mentally ill beggars and thieves, often determine how they are treated by others (see Mander, 2008, cited in Prasad, 2012, p. 73). The visibility of homeless people in a dishevelled mental state, with unclean looks, torn clothes, and shabby appearance, is a result of changes and failures of social policies regarding the institutional treatment of mentally ill persons (Bhugra, 2007). With inadequate institutional and community care, and abandonment by family members, such persons are forced to live on the streets in the state of homelessness (Buckner, 2014; Harriss-White, 2005). Patra and Anand (2008) reviewed studies on the health status of homeless persons in India and identified several issues that contribute to ill health, and the complete negligence of the health of homeless people. Contributing factors included the lack of identity documents to get appropriate medical services; the attitude of health care providers towards the homeless; the inability to pay for health services; and the focus on meeting basic daily needs such as food, as barriers to seeking health care. These findings corroborate and explain the unattended health condition of Kumar, who had spent days on the street being ill, without any treatment. Such findings highlight current economic and political ideologies that are discriminatory and inequitable for the poor and disadvantaged in society such as homeless persons (Tripathi, 2014, p. 33). Within this small sample, we also have evidence of homeless people working for their living and contributing as valuable citizens, with the goal of making a difference in their situation and society at large. It needs to be acknowledged that many homeless persons, while living on the street, work to meet their basic needs. Ramratan is one among such persons who worked in a small restaurant after escaping abuse in his own home. He worked there as a utensil cleaner for a year. Ramratan stated: “Unfortunately, the dhaba (small restaurant) was closed due to getting less profit and I had to resort to begging”. Experience of living in a homeless shelter All the interviewees expressed their gratitude for the psychosocial support, services, and resources they got from the rescue organization. They wanted to ‘give back’ by helping others in a similar situation. They said that they regained their lives, self-worth, and dignity through the efforts of this organization. These findings corroborate findings of Nath and Hallett (2015) who report similar feelings of compassion and commitment to giving back to a helping organization, after life-changing experiences. One of the interviewees, Sita, reported: I only survived because of this homeless community looking out for me and offering some assistance. It was not because of the practical help they offered
Kalpana Goel and Richa Chowdhary but because they cared enough to listen, to chat and to look for me whenever I needed during the most difficult time of my life.
Meena commented on the importance of feeling a sense of responsibility about caring for others, including her son: Coming to this institution is a great solace as I am finding everything for me and my son. They are supporting us like their own family members. I want to live a happy life and get married to someone so that I can have a name for my son . . . After coming to this home I am finding myzelf stable and recovering. In the home too, there are some challenges like number of people are more, and basic amenities are less. However, this life is far better from the pathetic days spent on the street. Here I have a security that I am in safe hands and will not be exploited physically or mentally. I have got a sense of responsibility and I am taking care of the people in the home who needs my support. (Mamta Devi) Saurabh also highlights the sense of respect he now feels: Getting a place in this organization is something I never thought of. Currently I am working in the organization and getting even payment for it. Now I have become physically and mentally stable. Here I am getting all the respect as a human being which was not possible on the street. (Saurabh) Similarly, Ramratan said: “Now I feel in great peace and live my life with dignity”. Kumar said he “thanked God” for the help from the civil society organization: I feel that God has given me something precious to admire. I always thank God for putting me in Earth Saviours as I am getting all the desired support and care from the people of the organisation. All the homeless people live like family members and there is no discrimination on the basis of caste and class. If I fall sick, I am given medical care and emotional support as well. I do not want to go out of this organisation and want to be a part of this family always. Therefore, the role of a civil society organization such as ‘Earth Saviors’ cannot be underestimated when examining responses to homelessness in India.
Conclusion This chapter explored experiences of homelessness in a large city of India. Speak (2013)’s model that intersected societal values, individual, and structural causation and meanings of homelessness was used to examine the main causes of and lived experiences of homelessness. The narratives of people who became homeless in Delhi clearly highlighted the effects of socio-cultural and political values such as patriarchal family structures; the ideation of women as objects who can be socially
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and sexually exploited; structural inequalities when responding to the poor, infirm, and traumatized, with few formal supports in the event of the lack of family support; diminishing filial bonds, and changing intergenerational values resulting in homelessness. Political values and the attitude of apathy towards homeless persons living on the streets without the formal support of shelters and emergency health facilities contribute to the atrocities that street dwellers experienced while living on the streets. They have no voice or choice to exercise their rights to meet basic human needs, clearly indicating the failure of the political system in the country to meet the basic human needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged, denying their rights to humane living. The current climate of neo-liberal global economic policies and the lack of commitment of national government authorities highlights minimal or non-existent state intervention in caring for the disenfranchised and disadvantaged homeless population groups. The role of civil society organizations in providing basic human needs, love, compassion, and care is the most important contribution, to reduce their discomfort and enable them to live a dignified life through empowering initiatives and efforts. A change in attitudes of politicians and society at large is warranted if we are to overcome the issues of the growing homelessness situation in urban areas. Instead of treating homeless people as the ‘others’ without an identity and self-esteem, a right- based approach to every person who is homeless is needed.
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D’Cruz, P. & Bharat, S. (2001). Beyond joint and nuclear: The Indian family revisited. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 32(2), 167–194. Dhapola, S. (2014). AAP’s Porta cabins may not be the best solution for Delhi’s homeless. First Post, January 3. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from www.firstpost.com/author/dhapola Goel, K. (2011). Migration by choice or force: A study of the migration of Indian tribal women. In P. Jones, D. Miles, A. Francis & S.P. Rajeev (Eds.) Eco-social justice: Issues, challenges and ways forward: Voices from DeNovo 11. Bangalore: Authors Press, pp. 126–146. Goel, K. (2014). Domestic work and migration: A dual burden to women’s mental health. In A.P. Francis (Ed.). Social work in mental health: Areas of practice, challenges and way forward. Delhi: Sage Publications, pp. 118–134. Harriss-White, B. (2005). Destitution and the poverty of its politics: With special reference to South Asia. World Development, 33(6), 881–891. Jamuna, D. (2003). Issues of elder care and elder abuse in the Indian context. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 15(2–3), 125–142. Kellett, P. & Moore, J. (2003). Routes to home: Homelessness and home-making in contrasting societies. Habitat International, 27(1), 123–141. Koshish-TISS. (2009). Shelters for the homeless in Delhi report on the assessment of permanent shelters in New Delhi. Mumbai: Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Nath, V. & Hallett, R.E. (2015). Where there is no hope: A teacher’s experience with homelessness. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(6), 663–670. Patra, S. & Anand, K. (2008). Homelessness: A hidden public health problem. Indian Journal of Public Health, 52(3), 164–170. Pinto, S. (2009). Crises of commitment: Ethics of intimacy, kin, and confinement in global psychiatry. Medical Anthropology, 28(1), 1–10. Prasad, V. (2012). Translating universal health care for the homeless: Barriers and potential facilitating factors for accessing health care amongst street dwellers in India. Health, Culture and Society, 2(1), 71–88. Prashad, L., Lhungdim, H. & Dutta, M. (2016). An enquiry into migration and homelessness a developmental discourse: Evidence from Mumbai city. International Journal of Innovative Knowledge Concepts, 2(1), 33–39. Rukmini, S. (2013). Census Pegs homeless at 18 lakhs but activist dispute it. The Hindu, December 8. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from www.thehindu.com/news/national/censuspegs-homeless-at-18-lakh-but-activists-dispute-it/article5434196.ece Shah, A. & Sharma, S. (2014). Destitution among homeless men in Yamuna Pushta, Delhi. Delhi: Centre for Equity Studies. Smith, J.A. (2004). Reflecting on the development of interpretative phenomenological analysis and its contribution to qualitative research in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1(1), 39–54. Speak, S. (2004). Degrees of destitution: A typology of homelessness in developing countries. Housing Studies, 19(3), 465–482. Speak, S. (2013). ‘Values’ as a tool for conceptualising homelessness in the global south. Habitat International, 38, 143–149. Speak, S. & Tipple, G. (2006). Perceptions, persecution and pity: The limitations of interventions for homelessness in developing countries. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(1), 172–188. Tingal, D. & Pandey, K.V. (2008). The known unknown: A study of the homeless people in Delhi. New Delhi: Indo Global Social Service Society.
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The United Nations Economic and Social Council Statement [UNESC] (2014). Contribution to the 2014 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Integration Segment. Retrieved August 24, 2016, from www.un.org/en/ecosoc/integration/pdf/ officeofthehighcommissionerforhumanrights.pdf Tripathi, A. (2014). Understanding the problem of homelessness: A case for using habitus as a tool. The Journal of Development Practice, 1, 33–37. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Government of Delhi. (2010). Homeless Survey. Retrieved from www.in.undp.org/(Accessed 23.12.2016). Walters, V. (2014). Urban homelessness and the right to water and sanitation: experiences from India's cities. Water Policy, 16(4), 755−772. doi:10.2166/wp.2014.164 Williams, S. & Stickley, T. (2011). Stories from the streets: People’s experiences of homelessness. Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 18(5), 432–439.
Children’s homelessness in Sri Lanka Eshantha Ariyadasa, Helen McLaren, and Janet McIntyre-Mills
Introduction This chapter focuses on institutionalized children’s homelessness in Sri Lanka. The key reasons for children’s homelessness in Sri Lanka are war, natural disaster, and poverty. While many children are orphaned, it is more common in Sri Lanka for children to be voluntarily relinquished to children’s homes by parents who are experiencing poverty. Many of these parents hope that their children will be safe from harm and receive the nourishment and education that they are unable to provide. For this reason, children’s homes may appear to parents as a better option for the upbringing of their children. This is particularly true for families who are challenged in their capacity to provide care or are geographically distanced from schools. If there were no children’s homes, one could assume that parentless, relinquished, or abandoned children would otherwise be at risk of literal homelessness. However, the phenomenon of primary (or literal) homelessness barely exists in Sri Lanka. Unlike many other nations in the Asia Pacific, a curfew system does not allow unattended children to be on the street at night. Children found by authorities to be wandering alone are taken back to their families or otherwise relocated to institutional care. Legislation regulates this process. With good intentions, these systems aim to ensure that all children are safe and that they have their basic needs met in terms of water, food, shelter, sleep, and education. The conditions of children’s homes are variable. Some are of the utmost highest of standards, while others are hazardous to the children’s health and safety, not secure and nor are they ‘home-like’. Using broad definitions of homelessness, one could suggest that children who are living in the mid- to lesser quality children’s homes are homeless. In this chapter, we focus on voluntary children’s homes (as opposed to youth correctional facilities). We use the language of ‘children’s homes’ but acknowledge that many of these institutions are far from a home; in fact, they are sites for children’s institutional homelessness. In 2010, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services in Sri Lanka introduced a policy and a grading system, to guide the governance of children’s homes and other institutional arrangements for the care of children. The intention was to ensure that practices accord with the United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (2010). This chapter draws on the PhD thesis
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completed by the first-named author in 2016, which included interviews conducted in 2012 with Sri Lankan policymakers and service providers of children’s homes and employees. Interviews revealed that a large majority of institutionalized children were not adequately afforded their basic human rights, nor were they sufficiently protected. The children may have a shelter but other needs that would make institutionalized living more like a home were not often met. De Silva and Punchihewa (2011) observed that while some children’s homes in Sri Lanka received sizeable donations, many of the children they housed appeared malnourished. Ranganathananda (2006) noted that many institutionalized children in Sri Lanka are juvenile offenders, drug addicts, and child prostitutes, pointing out that some owners of these homes are known to profit from the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in their care. We argue here that, without children’s human rights being met, life in a children’s home is not only an institutionalized form of homelessness, but can also be a site of child exploitation. As a consequence of illegal, exploitative, or ineffective institutional practices, significant numbers of children in Sri Lanka’s children’s homes are therefore homeless. Vasudevan (2014) notes that even in the better quality children’s homes, living arrangements are devoid of the emotional bonds and affection characteristic of family and home. The ideal, therefore, is for children’s homes to strengthen relationships between the children and their parents, extended families, or communities. For children with no parents, small child-to-carer ratios and home-like arrangements are preferable. However, many children’s institutions in Sri Lanka do not support family contact and the reunification process, even when opportunities exist. As well, the child-to-carer ratio is high. The first author was instrumental in the rewriting and execution of Sri Lanka’s General Standard for the Promotion of Quality of Services in Voluntary Children’s Homes in accordance with the UN Guidelines. As a result of findings from his research, the introduction of a Reintegration Evaluation System in accordance with General Standards now provides hope that conditions for institutionalized children in Sri Lanka will improve. The General Standards for the Promotion of Quality of Services in Voluntary Children’s Homes in Sri Lanka (DPCCS, 1991) are a list of norms and values that includes standards relating to: building and environment, food, clothes, furniture, crockery, educational and sports material, management, staff, children’s education, and reintegration processes. This chapter outlines environmental, social, and economic contexts contributing to the scale of children’s institutional homelessness in Sri Lanka, including how these continue to interact with and implicate the children’s well-being. State responses to children’s homelessness are presented. This is followed by presenting examples of children’s experiences and then, findings from interviews with managers, carers, and policymakers about children’s homes and the newly introduced standards in Sri Lanka. Finally, much needed shifts in policy and intervention aimed to promote the rights of the child and reduce children’s homelessness are discussed.
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Contexts for children’s institutional homelessness in Sri Lanka In Sri Lanka, civil war, natural disasters, and poverty have necessitated institutional care as a means to shelter children and safeguard their rights. Environmental catastrophes in which human activity disrupts natural systems has increased Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to tsunami, floods, cyclones, landslides, droughts, and elephant attacks. These are contexts that contribute to poverty, destitution, exclusion, risk of homelessness, and subsequent institutional homelessness of children, as described below. Civil war and its systemic aftermath on the social and environmental fabric Sri Lanka experienced civil war for more than twenty-five years from 1983 until 2009. While the main battlefields were in the northern and eastern regions, the consequences of this war impacted all children. Those from conflict regions were displaced and lived for years in interim camps (War Child, 2014). Other children were recruited as child soldiers and exposed to trauma and torture. Human Rights Watch (Becker, 2004) estimated that the Tamil rebels (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) recruited more than 7,000 children. Some were fighters engaged in direct hostilities and others were used as cooks, porters, messengers, and spies. Living conditions were poor; many girls were enslaved for sexual purposes and all child soldiers were exposed to horrors that contributed to inflicting post-traumatic stress or other disability (Jayatunge & Somasundaram, 2014). In the North of Sri Lanka alone, Somasundaram (2007) revealed that 92% of school children had been exposed to some form of potentially traumatic event. Following the war, many children were held in detention or rehabilitation camps for months to years without relief. Some were later reunified with their families, but vast numbers of children who lost one or both parents were destitute or homeless. Therefore, the war made the institutional care of these children necessary. Human-wildlife conflict Since the war, many families have returned to their abandoned villages in waraffected areas, in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. However, they live amongst growing human-elephant conflict. This is the result of a lack of critical and systemic understanding of the need to balance individual and collective needs in a non-anthropocentric manner. Elephant populations were legally protected and they dominated the northern and eastern regions during the civil war (Dissanayake, 2015). Following the war, families attempted to reclaim land, and in the process, they destroyed the wild habitat needed for elephants to exist (Donaldson & Kymlicka, 2011). In the human bid to re-establish their own domestic locales and vegetable plots, the loss of wild habitat led to elephants being drawn closer to the villages (Liyanage, 2012). The damage that people caused to elephant
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habitat resulted in elephants encroaching, as they too struggled to survive. This caused property damage and loss of human life. The practice of cultivating vegetable plots in the villages was stopped, which resulted in diminished food security. These events in turn rendered many children homeless, parentless, and/or hungry. Large numbers of children became orphaned or destitute, and this created additional demands on an institutional care system that was already under pressure due to the civil war. Many children were sheltered far away from their families, who never saw them again. Since elephant attacks reached their peak in 2011, village life has been slowly stabilizing. However, the vast majority of children were not reunified with their families or communities. Poverty and environmental disaster Ariyadasa (2015a, 2015b) and Save the Children (Bilson & Cox, 2005) note that more than 30% of all institutionalized children in Sri Lanka are victims of poverty, in the context of civil war and environmental disaster. Droughts, floods, and storms amplified by climate change adversely affects livestock and agriculture. This leads to issues with food security, poverty, hunger, and destitution (McIntyre-Mills, 2014), contributing to the expansive institutionalization of children. The Sri Lankan government, in conjunction with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), worked towards ensuring children’s basic needs when orphaned after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. New children’s homes opened to accommodate the thousands of young tsunami victims, who had no known guardians, food, or shelter. The tsunami that struck Sri Lanka and other parts of South East Asia in December 2004 resulted in a significant loss of life. In Sri Lanka, an estimated 5,500 children lost one or both parents to the tsunami and countless others were considerably affected in other ways, including through loss of housing, geographical displacement, disruption to education, contraction of tsunami related illnesses, and the like. (IDLO, 2007, forward) The tsunami caused great pain, trauma, uncertainty, and upheaval. Many people were injured, lost their jobs and livelihood; houses and schools were destroyed (IDLO, 2007). Furthermore, women in Sri Lankan culture are primarily responsible for the care of children. The tsunami contributed to an already increasing trend of child abandonment, when mothers left their children behind to take up jobs abroad as domestic laborers (Bilson & Cox, 2005). This is not unlike the mothers in other Asian-Pacific nations who are confronted by the double-burden of working to alleviate poverty and of making decisions about the care of their children in the face of adversity (McLaren, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c; Nawaz & McLaren, 2016). Siblings, relatives, and friends of many children in Sri Lanka perished in the tsunami or went missing. ‘Left-behind children’ who had no family were vulnerable to child sexual abuse and other exploitation (Thambiah, 2012a, 2012b), and many
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eventually ended up in institutional care. After the tsunami, like the aftermath of civil war, many orphaned, abandoned or destitute children spent lengthy periods in temporary shelters, followed by prolonged institutionalization in children’s homes. The living conditions in either location were far from familiar, with limited comforting surroundings and emotional warmth. Natural disaster, or environmental disasters, resulting from human activities, and consequent poverty have contributed to increased demands for the institutional care of children in Sri Lanka. There are examples of the exploitation and manipulation of the earth’s resources (Romm, 2015; Steffen et al., 2011) that have dire consequences in terms of homelessness for Sri Lanka’s children. These include recent landslides in the hill country that are thought to have associations with the expansion of tea plantations, hydroelectric power projects, and construction of reservoirs, excavations, fillings, and tunnelling (Sugawara, 2013). Bandara (2015) argues that the haphazard and unplanned use of land and inappropriate construction methods has led to landslide susceptibility and ongoing problems for families and children. The devastating landslide in the Haldumulla-Koslanda region in 2014 was triggered by monsoon rains, but arguably the land’s vulnerability due to human activity is a contributing factor. Around 140 workers’ houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka were buried (Jayawardena, 2014). Children left for school in the morning and returned to find that their homes and families had disappeared without trace (Mallawarachi, 2014). Therefore, it can be argued that the children’s pain can be associated with adults’ adverse interaction with the earth and environment, which increased the demand for children’s homes when parents were killed or livelihoods were disrupted. Child protection measures increased reliance on children’s homes, expanding the institutionalization and homelessness of children.
Institutions as sites for children’s homelessness In the latest available data for Sri Lanka, there were 488 children’s homes sheltering more than 19,000 children (Roccella, 2007). 80% of the children did not have a legal guardian appointed to oversee their care. The lack of care and protection, and even child abuse in many institutions (Thambiah, 2012a) affected more than 15,000 children. Three out of ten children’s homes did not have enough beds, cupboards, and running water. Two out of five did not have a library or books from which the children can learn; more than 2,000 children in children’s homes did not attend school, and more than 9,000 did not have access to a doctor (Roccella, 2007). Save the Children (Bilson & Cox, 2005) have advised that placement in institutional care has serious negative impact on children’s development, wellbeing, and basic rights. For the child, full development into adulthood and productive citizenship requires safety, education, emotional attachment, and support, optimally in a family-like environment (Berens & Nelson, 2015), and in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding (United Nations, 1989). Children who experience institutional homelessness in Sri Lanka do not have this. In summary, the contexts for the institutionalization and homelessness of children in Sri Lanka extends from the loss of one or both parents, abject poverty, mothers
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migrating for employment, civil war, human-animal-environmental conflict, and natural disasters. These are overwhelming situations, requiring the housing of thousands of children, leaving few options for state crisis responses than to place the children in children’s homes. The existence of children’s homes has not solved children’s homelessness in most circumstances. However, their existence has changed the social fabric of Sri Lankan society in many respects. Some voices of these children are presented below, followed by the perspectives of care providers.
Institutional homelessness: experiences of Sri Lankan children Many children in these homes know what ‘home’ feels like. This is brought to our attention through research undertaken by Save the Children (Bilson & Cox 2005, pp. ix–x) in which the following narratives were reported: I want to go home. I want to be with my parents and sisters and live happily. Here I receive food, clothes, medicines everything. I have much better comforts here, but I have a burning sadness. I do not know where my younger brothers are, I want to find them. My home is far away. Therefore, my mother cannot come to see me. Here we do not have any one to tell our sorrow. Even at a time of sickness, when we tell, they scold us. My mother and father are not like that. The desires of these children align with the United Nations’ principles of the child’s best interest (Article 3, Convention on the Rights of the Child). Children have the right to a periodic review of care and treatment (Article 25) and it is the duty of the state to respect the responsibilities and rights of parents (Article 5), and to provide material assistance and support programs (Article 27). We sleep like dogs. We also like to wear good clothes like other children. Getting tasty food is a real problem in the home. I do not like to eat vegetarian food. We cannot ask for fish or meat in our meals. As well, there is a duty of the state to place children in institutions that are suitable for their care (Article 20) and there is the principle of responding to the views of the child (Article 12). However, these words from children living in children’s homes and who experience institutional homelessness are common. Alternatively, the capacity of children to experience ‘having a home’ at a children’s home is possible. The big sister is like a mother to me. She looks after us very well. When I receive her love and affection I do not feel the absence of my mother.
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What may be needed to reduce children’s institutionalized homelessness is for these services and their physical environment to meet the recommended standards of care, including the appropriate ratios of staff to children, and staff that are equipped to provide competent supervision and care (Article 3, United Nations, 1989).
Service providers’ perspectives on the children’s experiences Service providers and caregivers that were interviewed also demonstrated a need for better governance of children’s homes, particularly in ways that promote the full spectrum of children’s rights. One noteworthy observation by carers working at children’s homes was how the quality of connections with family influenced the institutional care experience for children, as exemplified below: My happiest experience is to see the happy faces of our children when they meet with their parents or relatives. Of course, the saddest experience is to see the gloomiest faces of other children who do not have parents or whose parents do not turn up to visit them. For the convenience of children’s homes, only a few days per year are usually allocated for relatives to visit the children. The days are not planned at times that are suitable to relatives. Many relatives live too far away and cannot afford to travel. Thus, most children miss visits from relatives and become isolated from their communities. Many parents are led to believe that their children will be better off in the children’s homes, and that they are safe, healthy, and receiving appropriate education. Despite good intentions, children’s rights to clean water, education, and a home-like environment are not always forthcoming. This was also expressed by the managers and workers interviewed. Children started becoming ill one by one. Everyone had to be hospitalized. The cause was identified as contaminated water. We should conduct camps for medical check-ups for our children frequently. Every home should be facilitated with teachers to advocate and to support children’s education as well as to conduct vocational training. Inadequate funding and resources limited the emotional warmth, quality of care and provision of education and training. These all curb the life chances for children living in children’s homes. Expressed frequently in the literature is longstanding evidence of the benefits of supporting children’s reunification with their families and communities, as part of disaster recovery and beyond (McCroskey, 2001; De Silva, 2008; Seneviratne & Mariam, 2011; Somasundaram, 2013). The direct and indirect benefits of reunification are optimal for children’s development, psycho-social well-being, sense of belonging, and sense of their place in the world. However, this is not easily achievable for children that are experiencing any form of homelessness because the
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program and support mechanisms to accommodate children’s return are not sufficiently developed. Furthermore, there are three distinct features that make family contact and the reintegration of children difficult: 1) children should not be integrated with families or communities that have sexually abused or otherwise harmed them, 2) boys are easier to reintegrate than girls due to cultural constructions that view girls as burdensome to families, and 3) children with disability are difficult to reintegrate due to societal stigma and poor infrastructure for people with disability in communities. While not all children will experience successful reintegration, it is important that institutional life is loving, humane, allows children to learn and play and be ‘home-like’. Regarding the reintegration of children with their own families and communities, some workers expressed that deinstitutionalization can be a better option. This was in the light of the poor living conditions that children experience in children’s homes. Below is an example from one manager of a children’s home. No matter how much comfort and care that we give to a child, they are not responsive. They still prefer to be with their parents or relatives. Therefore, it is best to keep them in their natural birth environments and supporting them to overcome their basic issues. As these children undergo a very low mental status, they expect love but not the material comfort. It is not appropriate to keep them in an institutional environment. However, addressing children’s institutional homelessness and consideration of their adverse experiences is often at odds with prevailing discourses in Sri Lanka on what is needed to protect children. Some interviewees held the view that children’s homes could protect children and the families could not. Building the capacity of families and communities to take their children back and provide suitable care was not a consideration. Our duty is to provide fullest care and protection to children for those who have been deprived of parental care. However, the most important thing is to socialize them as well-disciplined citizens. Although, many children in children’s homes yearn to go home and for this simple reason, reintegration with parents, extended family or community is important to address children’s institutional homelessness. The narrative from a worker at a children’s home below expresses how one child had experienced cyclical homelessness into adulthood. Should the child have been reunified with her family and supported to live in her community earlier, ongoing homelessness may have been avoided. We looked after a street child in our home. We found her a job and socialized her at the age of 19. However, she had gone to her family without proper notification to her officers and thereby had lost her job. Now again, she is living on streets.
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The number of children’s homes in Sri Lanka is not reducing and not all children can be reunified, given that whole communities have been wiped out by war or disaster. However, many children’s institutions are struggling to provide adequate care due to under-resourcing.
More home-like environments in children’s homes Despite this limited resourcing, there are many examples from interviews about how the implementation of extracurricular activity in a less formal environment can contribute to the children’s experiences of well-being. Once I took over this job as a manager, I directed Children for Music. As a result, I saw how their mental satisfaction developed. Furthermore, I have made provisions to conduct courses on mushroom nursery, handicrafts, sewing, and cookery classes with the intention of children’s skill development. Counselling and meditation classes too have been organized and conducted. Children are taken out for excursions and have put efforts to develop children’s sports skills. All these programs need to be continued and updated. I have witnessed the significance and the progress in children’s personalities. Some other interviewees expressed how changing the formality of relationship between children and their carers has increased children’s opportunities to experience a warmer living environment. This is in recognition that the children’s home is the only home that some of the children will ever have, hence relationships need to be more home-like. Our children used to call me madam for many years. Other staff members were called by their first names with uncle or aunty at the end. The children call each other by their first names. Recently I encouraged them to call us by relative names that are used in a typical family in Sri Lanka. I am their ‘amma’ (mother) and my assistant is ‘punchi amma’ (aunty). Our cooks are ‘achchi’ (grandmother) and ‘nanda’ (aunty). Our gardener is ‘mama’ (uncle) and the guard is ‘seeya’ (grandfather). Children call themselves with ‘aiya’ (elder brother) and ‘mallee’ (younger brother) at the end of their first names. Only the same age children call each other by their first names. It was a difficult task to convince them at first; however, our children’s home has been transformed into a homely environment now. Most surprisingly, there is less fighting and mutual support has developed and I feel much peaceful environment in the home than ever before. This chapter provides only a few examples of the experiences of those being sheltered in children’s homes in Sri Lanka. However, one can see that children need safety and to experience good health, emotional care, play, and physical well-being for an institutional environment to feel like a home. As well, when opportunities exist, reintegration of children with family and community remains the desired practice when addressing children’s institutional homelessness.
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Policies to address children’s institutional homelessness In this section, we focus on the policy informing the reintegration of children with their families and communities, as a mechanism to reduce children’s institutional homelessness. Ariyadasa and McIntyre-Mills (2014a) pointed out that the human rights of many children in children’s homes are not properly addressed, as determined by General Standards adopted with the intention of enhancing the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). They concluded, in regards to children’s right to a home, that: Provision of institutional care alone as an alternative to children’s denied rights, is never going to address their multifaceted issues in social, cultural, economic, political and environmental contexts . . . institutionalized children are denied their rights, often because their reintegration process is not efficient or effective. Thus, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the reintegration process will contribute significantly to addressing the human rights issues faced by institutionalized children within Sri Lanka. (Ariyadasa & McIntyre-Mills 2014a, p. 5) The existing mechanism for reintegrating institutionalized children with family and community is through placement committee meetings involving policy officers and service providers. However, the analysis of the statistics of these reintegration efforts indicate that the existing reintegration process is unreasonably inefficient and ineffective (Ariyadasa & McIntyre-Mills, 2014b). This is due to significant differences between the policy guidelines, decisions arising from placement committee meetings, and the actual practice operations of children’s homes. Children’s homes in Sri Lanka are meant to be governed in accordance with General Standards and with Grading Criteria adopted from the norms and values stated in the General Standards that are used to standardize children’s homes (DPCCS, 2010). However, many institutions do not comply with this. In 2010, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS) undertook a standardizing competition for voluntary children’s homes, based on points awarded for meeting the Grading Criteria gleaned from the General Standards (Ariyadasa & McIntyreMills, 2014a). The initial establishment of the grading system drawing on Ulrich and Reynolds’s (2010) planning approach indicates that the Sri Lankan government’s value stance is towards standardizing quality care in children’s homes.
Standardization of children’s homes in Sri Lanka Policymakers in Sri Lanka favor the standardization of all children’s homes, which provides hope that the mid- to lower-quality children’s homes will be compelled to improve their governance practices. There are twelve broad areas under the Grading Criteria for the standardization of children’s homes that aim to ensure the provision of a minimum level of care. These seek to assess the functioning of the children’s homes in accordance with minimum standards that refers the
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General Standards for the Promotion of Quality of Services of Voluntary Children’s Homes, imposed by the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS, 1991). As well, they are employed to evaluate the processes used to strengthen family bonds, reintegrate children with their communities, or otherwise increase the skills and life chances of the children. As expressed by a government official during research fieldwork, the initial standardizing competition as a capacity-building exercise influenced attitudinal change. Many homes rendered their cooperation to the competition. They were very enthusiastic. Some managers had changed their attitudes in a way to comply with the Grading Criteria which brought many positive outcomes in terms of the enhancement of quality of life aspects of children. When posed with the question, ‘How have they changed their attitudes positively?’ the government official responded with some examples of good outcomes for the children. Before the introduction of Grading Criteria, some managers had been hesitant to permit the parents or other family members to visit their homes. They had thought that it was really a nuisance for the management when children are visited by their family members. These attitudes of the managers had been adversely affected the family bonds between the child and their family members. The Grading Criteria which asks, ‘What are the steps that have been taken to strengthen the bonds between the child and the parent/guardian?’ has been influential to change these attitudes and some managers have thoughtfully made structural changes to their homes. One of those changes in one home was that a room exclusively allocated for parents to stay during their visits to home. They also had made arrangements to provide meals for these family members during their visits. One home had reserved some money in their budget to support parents financially to cover their travelling expenses when visiting their child. These strategies came into being with the introduction of this competition for standardising children’s homes. The most precious outcome is that the children at other homes started to benefit from the disclosure of these good practices. This is one example where the policy implementation process of seeking to ensure minimum standards in children’s homes through a standardizing competition, along with research on the quality of children’s homes, has raised awareness of the children’s emotional and practical needs. While this quote cannot be considered representative of all government officials and service providers, it is indicative that perceptions about the children’s needs can change. Working towards attitudinal change and then the translation of change into practice will benefit the human rights and well-being of institutionalized children. While the process of change is slow, it is unavoidable that children in Sri Lanka will continue to experience adversities that result from institutional living. However, ongoing incremental policy and practice change should help to achieve better conditions in which the children in children’s homes are prevented from experiencing institutional homelessness.
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Conclusion For over the last fifty years or more, Sri Lanka’s children have been hit hard with war, disaster, and poverty. This has driven institutionalization as a mechanism to care for orphaned children in a country experiencing successive and concurrent crises. The impact of adversity on parents and communities has influenced patterns of voluntarily relinquishment of children to children’s homes, in the hope to improve children’s life chances. However, this has not proven successful for institutionalized children in many cases. What we suggest here is that many children, because their basic human rights are not met, experience institutional homelessness as opposed to being given a home or increased life chances. State policy in Sri Lanka attempts to regulate the quality of institutional care. There are a few superior children’s home that meet the needs of children, in terms of good quality water, food, shelter, sleep, and education, as well as emotional warmth, extracurricular activity, informalities, and a more home-like living environment. However, there are still too many institutions that do not. The General Standards and the grading standards are worthwhile policy measures that seek to evaluate the quality of life of institutionalized children. In terms of the children’s subjective and objective well-being, the recent introduction of a Reintegration Evaluation System offers a vision for enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of the grading process. This offers hope for improvements to children’s homes and to address issues of the prolonged and inhumane institutionalization of children.
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Roccella, C. (2007). Out of sight out of mind: Report on voluntary residential institutions for children in Sri Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: United Nations Children’s Fund, Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment. Romm, N.R.A. (2015). Foregrounding critical systemic and indigenous ways of collective knowing towards (re)directing the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS Berlin, Germany, 1(1). Viewed 30 August 2016. Available at: http:// journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings59th/article/view/2406. Seneviratne, D. & Mariam, F. (2011). Home truths: Children’s rights in institutional care in Sri Lanka. In M. Denov, R. Maclure & K Campbell (Eds.) Children’s rights and international development. New York, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 17–39. Somasundaram, D. (2007). Collective trauma in northern Sri Lanka: A qualitative psychosocial-ecological study. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 1(1), 1–5. Somasundaram, D. (2013). Recent disasters in Sri Lanka: Lessons learned. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 36(3), 321–338. Steffen, W., Persson, Å., Deutsch, L., Zalasiewicz, J., Williams, M., Richardson, K., Crumley, C., Crutzen, P., Folke, C., Gordon, L., Monina, M., Ramanathan, V., Rockström, J., Scheffer, M., Schellnhuber, H.J. & Svedin, U. (2011). The Anthropocene: From global change to planetary stewardship. Ambio, 40(7), 739–761. Sugawara, J. (2013). Landslides in tea plantation fields in Shizuoka, Japan. International Journal of Geomate, 4(1), 495–500. Thambiah, M. (2012a). Child sex abuse: More petitions, more predators. The Sunday Times, May 13, 2012. Viewed 30 May 2012. Available at: www.sundaytimes.lk/120513/ index.html Thambiah, M. (2012b). 4 children under 16 are raped daily. The Sunday Times, June 24, 2012. Viewed 1 July 2012. Available at: www.sundaytimes.lk/120624/index.html Ulrich, W. & Reynolds, M. (2010). Critical systems heuristics. In M. Reynolds & S.S. Holwell (Eds.) Systems approaches to managing change: A practical guide. London, UK: Springer, pp. 242–292. United Nations. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child 44/25 of 20 November 1989. United Nations, New York. Retrieved from www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/ Pages/CRC.aspx (Accessed 15.4.2013). Vasudevan, V. (2014). Child care institutions as quality family, surrogate (alternative) care services in Sri Lanka. Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond, 1(1), 57–67. War Child. (2014). Where we work: Sri Lanka. Retrieved from www.warchildholland.org/ sri-lanka (Accessed 1.8.2016).
Homelessness in Korea Lived experience and policy issues Soyoung Kim and Yong-Chang Heo
Introduction The Republic of Korea (hereafter Korea) has been struggling with increased homelessness over the last two decades, since the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) in the late 1990s. Immediately after the AFC, the problem of homelessness was confined to several districts near the central station in Seoul. The Seoul metropolitan government and non-profit agencies in the private sector cooperated closely to provide temporary shelters and jobs for the homeless as an emergency response. The severe economic downturn, however, made the situation worse and homeless people were unable to return to a normal working life. The issues related to homelessness have steadily sprawled across the country and become persistent over the last two decades. In regards to demographic characteristics, the homeless population has varied in age and gender over time. Jobless middle-aged men were initially a major cohort amongst the homeless but now, a variety of groups – the young, women, and the elderly – have fallen into homelessness. Since the economic crisis took place, the Korean government adopted a facilitycentred approach, providing care for the homeless through for example, emergency drop-in centres or other homeless facilities. Although the central government has assumed more financial responsibility than in the past, homelessness is not fully addressed due to the difficulties in financing homeless programs. Most local governments face financial difficulties because the financial responsibility for homeless facilities was devolved to local governments. As well as financial problems, programs are not efficiently coordinated and well-planned. This is mainly because the state has seldom conceived long-term plans for the existing homeless support system since the AFC. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive strategy for providing affordable housing and decent jobs to people who experience homelessness when they return to their local communities. With this background, this chapter aims to review the lived experience of homelessness in Korea and the development of homeless policy. Also, we critically examine current homeless policy and explore necessary reforms in the system to support the homeless. This chapter starts by introducing contexts and previous studies of Korean homelessness and by investigating key homelessness data. We describe lived experiences of homelessness based on interviews with homeless
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men. Finally, we review how homeless policy has unfolded at both national and regional levels and identify directions for improving the existing system.
Homelessness in Korea This section of the chapter discusses the context of homelessness in Korea, the scale and distribution of homelessness, followed by lived experiences of homelessness in Seoul. Contexts and discourses about homelessness Traditionally, research on what factors contribute to homelessness can be classified into two perspectives: the emphasis on structural factors versus the emphasis on personal factors as principal causes of homelessness. The former tends to highlight macro conditions of the labor market, housing system, and welfare policy. The latter perspective pays attention to major events in an individual’s life history, such as experiences of abuse, divorce, and family dissolution and physical or mental disorders that the homeless person suffers from (Ku & Kim, 2012). Some recent studies adopt a more integrated approach to the causes of homelessness by analyzing the mutual interactions between structural elements and personal elements. For example, the ecological perspective incorporates the meanings of various individual and structural interactions for the analysis of homelessness (see Anderson, 2001; 2003; Toro et al., 2007; Jones & Pleace, 2010). The integrated perspective can be useful to account for who are the most vulnerable to homelessness in a society, by arguing that people who have many personal risk factors might easily fall into homelessness, given that certain people in a society are commonly exposed to social risks (Shinn, 2007). While homelessness became a social problem in western developed countries in the 1980s, homelessness in Asian developed countries, such as Japan and Korea, was recognized as a potential social problem in the economic slumps of the 1990s (Ku et al., 2012). In Korea, concerns about homelessness were posed in the late 1990s, following the large-scale dismissal of employees without a social safety net, forcing them out of their own homes. Early studies of homelessness in Korea were undertaken to investigate the phenomenon of homelessness amongst the middle-aged males during the AFC. Joung et al. (1998) classified the main reasons for homelessness as: 1) economic hardships such as dismissal, bankruptcy; 2) physical and mental disorders such as alcoholism and drug addiction, and 3) the dissolution of families caused by divorce. Early studies portrayed the typical path into homelessness, as a person “who was raised in deprived circumstances and finally unemployed through marginal jobs in the labor market” (Ku & Kim, 2012, p. 269). These early academic interests on homelessness grew as the number of residents living in chokbang increased, which refers to a small room less than 5㎡ in floor area in poor condition or shanty houses with a shared toilet. Most chockbangs are generally built in crowded inner-city slums for the poor. The Korea Center for City and Environment Research (KOCER) (1999) reported that about 70% of chokbang residents experienced homelessness in the past, and emphasized
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shared similar characteristics between the homeless and chokbang residents. Recent studies further demonstrate the varying causal factors and pathways into homelessness in Korea. In these studies, other causal factors (or pathways) suggested to affect homelessness, include: the subculture within homeless groups (Kim, 2005), ‘orphan or juvenile’ homelessness caused by the early death of parents or juvenile ‘runaways’ (Hyeun & Choi, 2008), and female homelessness caused by domestic violence (Seo, 2005). Shin (2011) argued that previous studies overemphasized structural factors when explaining homelessness and suggested the need to recognize the complicated and dynamic features of homelessness. However, despite the expanding research on homelessness, public perceptions continue to be dominated by negative attitudes toward the homeless living ‘on the street’. The homeless are frequently seen as lazy, potentially dangerous, and as suffering from mental health issues. Coupled with the strong work-ethic and family values in Korean society, this prejudicial attitude forces the homeless to hide the reality of their lives. Scale and distribution of homelessness Homelessness is often equated with ‘street homelessness’ (or rough sleeping). However, broad definitions of homelessness encompass insecure housing conditions as well as street homelessness. The European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion (ETHOS) notes that the status of ‘inadequate housing’ can be regarded as homelessness. This definition of homelessness goes beyond ‘street homelessness’ and resonates with homeless-related legislation in Korea. The Seoul Metropolitan Government Act on the Support for Welfare and Self-reliance of the Homeless define the homeless as people who: i) practically do not have a permanent residence; ii) reside in facilities for the homeless, and iii) live in poor accommodation conditions for a substantial period. The coverage of homeless people is broadly defined but the definition has ambiguous elements. There are debates about what types of unsettled people can be acknowledged as beneficiaries of homeless programs, when interpreting ‘people who live in poor accommodation conditions’. The ambiguity of key terms make it difficult to define what types of people can be acknowledged as ‘homeless people’ and who are practically entitled to policy benefits. Given the ambiguity of the definition of ‘the homeless’ in the Act, we need to rely on official data that central government has published to determine the extent of homelessness and what the government assumes to be a policy target group. Data published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) reveals that the ‘official’ homeless counted in central government reports includes: i) people sleeping in the open; ii) residents of homeless facilities, and iii) residents in shanty houses. This categorization of homeless people and official data misses many types of unsettled people who do not have stable residence. For example, the data does not collect the number of juvenile homeless people because the Act specifies the homeless as being adults who are beyond the age of 18. Recent data shows that total number of homeless people ranges between 12,300 and 13,200 (see Table 6.1). While the number of residents in homeless
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Table 6.1 The number of homeless people in Korea (2010–2014) Year
People on street Homeless facilities Residents in Chokbang* Total number
1,077 12,075 6,232 13,152
1,121 12,024 5,991 13,145
1,081 11,310 5,891 12,391
1,197 10,615 5,992 12,656
1,138 10,310 6,147 12,347
* Chokbang means a small room with less than 5㎡in floor area in shanty houses with a shared toilet. Sources: MOHW (2015, p. 324)
Table 6.2 The age and gender profile of homeless people (2011) Gender (%)
Male Female Under 20 20s 30s People on street Users & residents in homeless facilities Residents in Chokbang
3.7 10.7 39.0 31.7 11.7 3.3 2.4 15.8 28.0 34.1 16.1 3.4
18.2 36.3 22.7 18.2
Sources: Adapted from KOCER (2011, p. 12)1
facilities gradually decreased, the number of people on the street has not decreased. Most of the homeless people reside in homeless facilities, particularly in rehabilitation and nursing facilities. More specifically, Table 6.2 outlines demographic features of homelessness such as age and gender. Regarding gender of the homeless, a clear majority of people sleeping in the open (97% of total people on street) are male. On the other hand, 20% of residents in homeless facilities and shanty houses are female. The data indicates that female homeless people prefer to stay in homeless facilities or houses in poor condition, rather than sleep on the street where they may be exposed to more risks. In terms of the age profile, there are considerable age variations depending on types of accommodation. About 70% of total people on the street and residents in homeless facilities are the middle-aged (40s and 50s) homeless, whereas there are more people above the age of 60 than middle-aged among residents in shanty houses. In summary, recent data shows the following characteristics of homelessness in Korea. First, the number of people sleeping on the street has not decreased, despite growing attention to homeless policy. Second, many homeless people are accommodated in homeless facilities, possibly because of the facility-centred approach adopted by the state. Additionally, several factors are identified in relation to gender and age. While the ratio of the middle-aged homeless is higher at the street and facility level, the ratio of the elderly homeless is relatively higher for residents in
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shanty houses. Male homelessness is more prevalent than that of female homelessness, in all types of homelessness. Women’s homelessness is experienced differently and has different causes, such as escaping domestic and family violence, which is not the focus of this chapter.
Lived experiences of homelessness in Seoul According to the first National Survey on Housing Vulnerable People conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2011, among homeless people in Korea, street sleepers are around 49 years old, and those who stay at shelters for the homeless are around 50 years old (see Notes 1 and 2 for more details about this research and the definition of ‘vulnerable’). In other words, the average Korean homeless are male and around 50 years old. However, despite the lack of attention to young people, the number of homeless youth in their 20s and 30s is considerable, making up approximately 18% of the total number of the homeless. Although the cases in this part of the chapter explores selected experiences of men who experience homelessness, they are useful to understand the characteristics of Korean homelessness in the sense that they are typical examples of homelessness and illustrate some of various experiences of homelessness in Seoul. Generally, Koreans’ image of the homeless is the so-called ‘IMF-type-homeless’. This group of people had stable jobs and were married, middle-aged breadwinners. However, their businesses went bankrupt or they lost their job leading to an economic crisis, which in turn caused conflicts in the family, eventually leading to divorce. They would typically transfer all their finances and assets, including real estate, to their wife who rears their children, leaving themselves with only enough money for a couple of months as they start living alone in motels or inns. Some thought it would be possible for them to briefly live alone, expecting them to get back on their feet and to reunite with their family or to find employment. However, often, the shame and anger from falling into economic despair and the difficulties in regaining their independence had devastating consequences for their mental and physical health, bringing them one step closer to living on the street. Eventually, without money to pay for accommodation, they begin living in public places, where they can hide themselves, such as in the waiting areas at Seoul station. One example of this is Case 1, a 57 years old man who became homeless at the age of 49:2 My business failed . . . And then the company had difficulties . . . It will soon be over, I thought, just like a typhoon briefly sweeping through the economy. I never expected I would fail so badly. Without any income, trouble began to develop at home. I disconnected myself from all associates and didn’t leave my room for a day. The next day after I left home with some money, I slept at a motel on the first day, and the next day I met my friend and had a drink and after that I had nowhere to go, so I got a room at an inn nearby, and they said long-term stay was possible so I did so . . . At a point where I had not enough money, I had to move to a cheaper place and so on.
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However, not all middle-aged homeless men went through this pattern prior to becoming homeless. Many homeless men had been single since adolescence, had unstable jobs, and then later failed to make a living. In Korea, it is difficult to marry without a stable job and educational background. The jobs these men had after their youth were typically manufacturing work in factories, work in the service industry at restaurants, manual work, or part-time jobs at a gas stations or at convenience stores. Many of the men therefore severed ties with their families due to the psychological burden of their inability to ‘stand on their own feet’. Approaching their 40s, many became isolated from their families and society. They were driven towards homelessness as ‘difficulties’ at work got worse, as severances from work were more frequent, as time spent on job searching was longer, and as they developed health problems. Adding to this, conflicts with family, alcohol problems, mental instability, and criminal records, the danger of being homeless increased significantly. This is typified by Case 2, a 46-year-old man who became homeless at the age of 25: By the time I approached my mid-30s, I was too old to work as a bartender. So I got work at construction sites. But I just couldn’t do it any longer. One day, after working the whole day, when I returned from work, my whole body was so exhausted that I had to rest for a week. While resting for a week, I used up all the money, 50,000 won, that I got for one day’s work. It was impossible to save money. When I couldn’t work, being left with no money, I literally had to sleep on streets. With no money, I couldn’t eat properly, but without proper food, it got harder and harder to go to work. I just couldn’t work, I just couldn’t afford to. One of the most intensely discussed topics in Korea relates to unemployment and housing for homeless youth who suffer from extreme poverty and are socially excluded. This group can become homeless due to avoiding or distancing themselves from their families, or due to the absence of a family. The youth experience a worsening of their mental health issues, distress from family relations deteriorating and maladjustment and delinquency at school. They become homeless earlier and are more likely to have financial and physical problems. Social relationships with family or friends are seriously severed. Even when considering similar experiences among middle-aged men, it is comparably more difficult for the youth to become socially included and to fend for themselves (Kim, 2016). These young people experience harsh homeless conditions, limited self-reliance, and they suffer increasing mental health issues, as evident in Case 3, a 28-year-old man who became homeless at the age of 25: It has been three years now since I utterly left home and when I was twenty . . . I have slept on the streets several times, regardless of the season. Later I found out I suffered from depression too . . . I hated to exchange even one word with my father and step mother. So I just came to Seoul like I was leaving for good. I had 150,000 won with me when I arrived and I spent it on comics-cafés, public saunas, cigarettes, and food. When I had no more money, I slept on the streets. If I returned home, there will be a huge conflict. We would definitely get into a fight. I would rather stay away from my home than go home and fight.
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The development of homeless policy in Korea This policy section of the chapter is covered in two parts. The first part discusses the central government’s response, and the second is about the response of the local government in Seoul. Central government’ responses toward homelessness The first policy measure for the homeless was implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1970. The measures aimed to socially control the homeless population and to focus on the maintenance of social stability (Nam, 2004). These controlling elements of the homeless policy began to decrease in the late 1980s when a series of scandals became public, such as the severe abuse of residents in homeless facilities. Affected by the scandals, the central government endeavored to monitor the quality of homeless facilities and abolished the prescriptive approach to homelessness in 1987 (Nam, 2004). Despite these changes, it was not until the 1990s that significant reforms of homeless policy were undertaken, after the economic crisis occurred. Korean society suffered from rising unemployment and poverty after the AFC. Given the lack of social safety nets, many unemployed people, particularly middle-aged male breadwinners, were forced to become homeless, as their families were broken apart by economic hardships. The state began to introduce new measures to cope with the increasing homeless population on the streets. First, the state regulated the management of homeless facilities by revising the Social Welfare Services (SWC) Act in 1999. The revised SWC Act gave the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) power to introduce ministerial ordinance over homeless facilities, and the Ministry began to enforce the ordinance in 2000. With the improvement of regulations in law, the government set up practical measures and began to provide various services for the increasing urban homeless. More concretely, the MOHW prepared new policy packages for the urban homeless, aimed at providing temporary jobs and necessary services for the homeless beyond emergency aid (MOHW, 2014). As the homeless population increased rather than decreased, the government needed to modify the goal of the homeless policy towards promoting self-help, mainly through the provision of temporary shelters and jobs (Lee et al., 2007). At the same time, in 2004, the Korean government decided to devolve a vast majority of their social service programs to local governments. The Roh Moo Hyun government (2003–2008) intended to give local authorities more discretion when designing and implementing social services, including homeless policy. Most programs for the homeless were fully devolved to local authorities in 2005, except the programs for rehabilitation and nursing. The number of nursing facilities and rehabilitation facilities is twenty-two and thirty-six respectively among a total of 149 homeless facilities in 2015 (MOHW, 2016). With temporary grants from central government, local governments assumed the responsibility to fund programs for the homeless. However, most poorly self-financed local governments (except Seoul) were unable to maintain or enhance the supports for the homeless.
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While homeless programs were substantially retrenched at the local level, the legislation of the Act on Support for Welfare and Self-reliance of the Homeless (hereafter the 2011 Act), which came into force in 2012, was a turning point at the central level. The newly introduced Act contributed to the improvement of homeless policy in the following respects (Joung, 2012). 1 2 3 4
The Act recognized that the state should guarantee social right of homeless people. The Act expanded the definition of homelessness as to cover people who are currently homeless and people who are living in poor accommodation conditions. Official terms to designate homeless people were defined as “No-sook-in” (in Korean, ‘the homeless’ in English) and various facilities for the homeless were newly categorized in the Act. The Act enhanced the state’s responsibility and promoted closer cooperation between the public sector and the private sector.
The 2011 Act aims to rehabilitate the homeless and to promote the welfare of homeless persons by providing the necessary supports for securing their social right. The Act declares what vision the homeless policy is pursuing and who is entitled for it to support, which the former acts lacked. The other significant implication was that many rules and regulations about facilities for the homeless were clarified by the legislation. A variety of homeless facilities providing social and medical services were re-organized under the new categories (see Figure 6.1). As well, Table 6.3 below details the roles of homelessness facilities in the new Act. In addition, legal liability for researching and formulating plans was granted to both the central governments and local governments. The MOHW’s responsibility is to formulate a comprehensive plan and to undertake a survey of homeless people every five years. Local governments are also required to arrange detailed plans for the homeless and report them to the MOHW. Based on this brief policy history and responses by central government, a more in depth analysis of Seoul is presented
Homeless facilities & centers
Figure 6.1 New categories of homeless facilities Source: Author
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Table 6.3 The roles of facilities in the 2011 Act Facilities & centers
Roles and main services
Centers to accommodate homeless people on daily services to provide temporary shelters and meals. Facilities to implement vocational counselling or training programs for the homeless seeking job opportunities in the labor market. Facilities where medical treatments and rehabilitation services are provided to cure physical and mental disorders, particularly alcoholism and gambling addiction. Facilities to provide long-term nursing or medical services for the homeless who have relatively serious physical or mental disorders. Centers to offer meals for the homeless on street. Centers to provide professional counselling and to arrange necessary services for the residents in Chokbang. Centres to provide medical services only for the homeless as outpatient clinic.
Self-help facility Rehabilitation facility Nursing facility Foodservice center Counselling center Medical center Source: Author
next, highlighting that local government, central government and other non-profit organizations (NPOs) are working together to provide emergency assistance for the homeless. Homelessness and responses in Seoul: from 1998 to present As the capital of Korea, Seoul is the biggest city, where 10 million people reside. Access to the city is quite convenient because public transport is well-organized and it is geographically located in the central region of the Korean Peninsula. For these reasons, homeless problems in Seoul have been much more severe than other mega cities in Korea. More than 50% of the total homeless population and about 80% of residents in drop-in centers for the homeless are concentrated in Seoul (KOCER, 2013). Considering the high share of homeless population and related facilities, homelessness has been one of the most essential issues in Seoul, especially since the number of homeless people drastically rose in the aftermath of the late 1990s economic crisis. In August of 1998, there were 1,800 homeless people sleeping at the station, a nearby park and underground passage, and about 400 homeless people were newly gathered around the station in the three weeks when Korean society suffered the most from the crisis (Joung, 1998). Most of them were middle-aged men in their 40s and 50s, who had lost their jobs and had become unemployed due to the sudden bankruptcy of many firms. Since then, Seoul station has become an iconic site toward which homeless people gather from every corner of the country and sleep on the street. With the emerging problem of homelessness, the Seoul metropolitan government began to handle homelessness by taking emergency measures to respond to
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the increase in homeless people. Besides the local government, central government, and other non-profit organizations (NPOs) worked together in 1998 for the immediate provision of emergency measures. The authorities and NPOs closely cooperated with each other by sharing different roles. NPOs and religious groups took the role of delivering services for the homeless, and central and local governments mainly provided financial and administrative supports for these organizations. Initially, the main services for the homeless were providing free meals, were purchasing tickets for returning to their hometown, and were coordinating emergency medical aid and shelters. As the central government developed the first official counter plan for the homeless at the time, the Seoul metropolitan government prioritized providing temporary shelters. Consequently, the local government provided around 100 temporary shelters based on established community welfare center across the city. About 4,500 people were accommodated in these temporary shelters in just one year, by 1999 (Joung & Kim, 1999). This initial direction was framed as a fundamental characteristic of homeless policy in Seoul. This is probably because policymakers in Seoul assumed that prospective economic recovery would improve homeless problems by ensuring more job opportunities in the early 2000s. Yet, homelessness grew persistent, as many homeless people still lived on the street or in temporary shelters. Also, Korean society observed that the demographic features of homeless people became more complicated in the early 2000s. Homelessness was no longer confined to the unemployed and middle-aged male. Other groups such as women, children, youth, the disabled, and the elderly joined the homeless. Continuing homelessness and related issues brought about changes in the homeless policy of Seoul. The local government conceived a dual-track policy, which aimed to enhance self-reliance through expanding job opportunity for working-age cohorts of homeless people, and which aimed to deliver rehabilitation services for the homeless who could not work. Following these goals, temporary shelters specialized in delivering services in accordance with needs of homeless clients. Seoul government steadily transformed temporary shelters into several types of specialized homeless facilities, such as nursing, rehabilitation, and self-help facilities. This emphasis on specialized facilities were transitional or staircase and housing-ready strategies, rather than a housing-first strategy to provide housing supports for the homeless. Nevertheless, these policy changes did not lead to significant improvement in homeless responses due to insufficient budgets and limited networks with other non-profit service providers. It was not until 2004 that the responsibility of financing homeless program was largely devolved on local governments that other important shifts were observed. Most of all, the local government of Seoul increased the budget for homeless services. Public expenditure on homelessness increased to up to 20 billion dollars in 2006, which was a dramatic rise from 12 billion dollars in 2005 (Lee et al., 2007). With increased funding, the government invested in designing more organized homeless services. For example, the government made gateway facilities as first contact points for the homeless and expanded medical services. The government also organized a variety of cultural and educational programs to promote the
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self-esteem of homeless people. The most important change was that the priority of homeless policy was to offer job opportunities. This included helping the homeless find a job in the labor market, and the government created new jobs in the public sector, such as managing outreach activities, cleaning up public parks or homeless facilities. The homeless could participate in the programs for up to forty hours a week for six months. The government further developed other supporting programs for the homeless, such as subsidizing housing costs and free medical aids. In summary, the Seoul government has developed various homelessness programs since the economic crisis occurred in the late 1990s. At the early stage of post-AFC, the government assumed that a series of problems generated by homelessness might be solved in the near future, when the economy would escape sharp recession. Therefore, the early responses were to carry out emergency aid programs, mainly through the temporary provision of essential services, such as meals, medical aids, and housing. However, as homelessness became an enduring social problem, rather than a temporary one, the government highlighted a dual-track homeless policy, by balancing job placement (or creation) programs for working-age people, and by providing essential services for other groups who could not work. Overall, the responses of Seoul government seemed to be more flexible and responsive than those of central government, at least in the field of homeless policy.
Conclusion In Korea, the shared roles of homeless policy between the states and local authorities have been structured through the 2005 devolution and the legislation of the 2011 Act. The MOHW draws up the five-year plan, undertakes nation-wide surveys, and imposes regulations for homeless facilities. In terms of financing homeless programs, the central government subsidizes emergency aids programs and key living facilities for the homeless such as nursing facilities and rehabilitation facilities up to 70% of operating costs. To take up these roles, the central government secured 27.9 billion won (approximately 27 million US dollars). As outlined in KOCER (2013, p. 137), the nationwide homelessness budget for local governments is 63.4%, whilst the central government is provided with 36.6% of the total nation-wide homeless budget. When it comes to the details on homeless policy, public expenditure on homeless policy leans heavily towards the supports for homeless facilities (67.7%) and facility repairs (8.7%), rather than towards housing subsidies, job-seeking programs (9.6%), and others programs (14%) to support independent living in the community. Apart from planning and regulating homeless facilities and programs, the state provides essential but limited kinds of programs mainly related to subsidizing nursing and rehabilitation facilities, housing, medical, and legal services. The Seoul government, on the other hand, provides not only essential legal, medical, and housing services but also provides temporary rental subsidies, rental housing, drop-in centers, employment, and recreational and cultural services. The facilities for rehabilitation and nursing are subsidized by central government, whereas local governments only subsidize the other facilities.
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Korean homeless policy has shifted from offering emergency aid to the consistent delivery of necessary services to support exiting from homeless situations. Certain regulating elements of the old homeless policy remain, such as that the homeless sleeping on the street or occupying public facilities should be evicted (Nam, 2013). The residual and regulatory approach to homelessness has been moving toward embracing homeless-friendly services. Notwithstanding the positive changes, Korean homeless policy needs further reforms, to effectively handle the problems of homelessness. Major issues with the homeless policy are summarized next. First, homeless policy may need to move beyond a facility-centered approach, towards other community-based alternatives. While this facility-centeed approach contributed to the effective provision of temporary emergency care, it is frequently argued that homeless people experience long term homelessness (Nam, 2011). With the limitations of the facility-centered approach, Korean government could explore other viable alternatives at the community level. The other problem of homeless facilities is that the functions of each homeless facility and the people who are eligible for homeless facilities are not precisely described. Whilst the main functions of each facility are defined in the 2011 Act, nevertheless, homeless people de facto chose the facility they stay in. There are few rules about how to prevent the homeless from accessing many types of facilities. For example, there is a regulation that homeless person can use a specific drop-in-center up to twenty days in a month, but it does not work when a homeless person uses other drop-in-centers. Another instance is that a homeless person who needs medical treatments or rehabilitation services can enter self-help facilities rather than rehabilitation facilities, to avoid long-term medical treatments under restrictive conditions and environments. Second, current job placement (or creation) programs need to be enhanced to enable people to obtain and maintain long-term employment. The Seoul metropolitan government has organized job placement and job creation programs to promote the reintegration of homeless people into the community. The programs were implemented with unemployed working-age people as the principal target group. The pursuit of employment is essential but existing programs are not designed for the homeless to find decent jobs in the labor market. Given the lack of active labor market policy for the homeless, there are few options for working-age people who are unskilled and low-paid employees, either in the private sector or in the public sector. Third, the system to finance homeless programs and facilities should be reconsidered to prevent the retraction of homeless policy at the level of local authorities. Since the devolution of finance in the mid-2000s, many local governments have reduced homeless programs due to difficulties in financing local welfare programs. Without state subsidies, non-contributory welfare programs, including homeless programs, are vulnerable. Additionally, financial supports from the central government vary between different types of homeless facilities without a clear rationale. For instance, while operating costs of rehabilitation and nursing facilities are subsidized by the states, the full cost of running other facilities are left to local governments. This discrimination between types of facilities has led to continuous cutbacks of homeless programs at the local level. As far as the financial sources of
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homeless programs are concerned, it is unlikely that the portion of user-pay fees or other donations from the private sector would significantly rise. Hence, the central state and local authorities would need to work out how to share expenditure on homeless policy in a sustainable manner. Finally, a wide range of services are needed when people leave homeless facilities and settle in the local community. Although the supports for housing and employment are vital, other services such as counselling, medical and social networking services are also required for the homeless to adapt to community life. Yet, professional individual counselling and case managements are not implemented extensively in homeless facilities and on the street. Moreover, homelessness increasingly consists of diverse demographic groups, such as women, young people and children, as well as middle-aged men. This demographic diversity indicates that the reasons for homelessness and its pathways vary among different groups, and thus more nuanced services should be offered to meet the diverse needs of the changing homeless population. Although homelessness exists across the globe, to a certain degree, its causal factors and pathways vary between countries. The 1997 AFC brought about largescale unemployment and homelessness amongst middle-aged male breadwinners. Despite the recovery from the economic crisis, the number of homeless people did not decrease. Meanwhile other groups including the young and the female gradually joined the homeless with different pathways. Homelessness is no longer confined to middle-aged men. The problem of homelessness has become more complicated and enduring. Notwithstanding the growing complexity of homelessness, Korean homeless policy has not evolved to encompass the changing homeless population in appropriate ways. Above all, there are little changes in the narrow perspectives of homelessness among key agents in the policy-making and implementation process. Most policymakers and bureaucrats assume that the best way of helping the homeless is to provide care facilities and instill the value of a work ethic. Homeless facilities lack public subsidies and other financial sources but are required to conform to regulations that the state and local governments impose. Overall, there is little concern about the topic of homelessness which hinders the exploration of more comprehensive and preventive strategies, such as implementing a ‘housing first strategy’ or a ‘protection approach against homelessness’. There is limited systematic analysis of pathways into homelessness in the Korean contexts. Consequently, homeless issues are not high on the political agenda and in social policy. Yet Korean homelessness has become a complex phenomenon. Thus, there is a need to turn the ‘hidden’ issues of homelessness into ‘visible and manageable’ ones, in order to enable Korean society to address homelessness and reform homeless policy as a whole, by adopting a socially inclusive approach.
Notes 1 In this research, housing vulnerable people is a broader term than the homeless by the law. For example, people who stay at internet cafes or public saunas, at lodging facilities such as motels or inns, or at vinyl greenhouses are included. Age varies with types of stays. In this chapter, only street sleepers and those who stay at shelters are included as the homeless.
Homelessness in Korea
2 The cases introduced in this part are selected from the ‘Archive of Life history of the Homeless in Korea’ (2011–2012) undertaken by ‘Homelessness research group of SNU (Seoul National University)’ and ‘Homeless young adult Qualitative Interview (2016)’ gathered by Soyoung Kim, one of the authors of this chapter, for her doctoral dissertation.
References Anderson, I. (2001). Pathways through homelessness: Towards a dynamic analysis: Urban frontiers program. University of Western Sydney Research Seminar. Retrieved from www.urbancenter.utoronto.ca/pdfs/elibrary/Anderson_Pathways-Homeless Anderson, I. (2003). Synthesizing homelessness research: Trends, lessons and prospects. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 13, 197–205. Hyeun, S. & Choi, H. (2008). An analysis of the roots of homelessness. Korean Public Administration Quarterly, 20(4), 1153–1180. (In Korean) Jones, A. & Pleace, N. (2010). A review of single homelessness in the UK 2000–2010. London: Crisis UK. Joung, W. (1998). The unemployed homelessness and policy responses. Journal of Critical Social Policy, 4, 113–125. (In Korean) Joung, W. (2012). The Act on support for welfare and self-reliance of the homeless and relevant issues. Welfare Issues, 164, 9–13. (In Korean) Joung, W. & Kim, S. (1999). A study on the profile of the new Korean homeless. Seoul Studies, 7(1), 69–90. (In Korean) Joung, W., Kim, S. & Joo, Y. (1998). ‘Reality and causes of homelessness in Homelessness.’ Unpublished working paper. Institute for the Self-help of the Homeless. (In Korean) Kim, J. (2005). Becoming homeless and barriers to exiting homelessness. The Journal of Asiatic Studies, 48(2), 87–115. (In Korean) Kim, S. (2016). Experiences of homeless young adults: Entry into lives after homelessness. Seoul Nation University doctoral degree dissertation. (In Korean) Korea Center for City and Environment Research. (1999). Report on Chokbang districts and policy suggestions. Seoul: Ministry of Health and Welfare. (In Korean) Korea Center for City and Environment Research. (2011). National survey on poor-housed people in Korea. Seoul: Ministry of Health and Welfare. (In Korean) Korea Center for City and Environment Research. (2013). Report on the reality of the homeless in Seoul. Seoul: Seoul Metropolitan Government. (In Korean) Ku, I. & Kim, S. (2012). Entrance into homelessness in Korea: Cause and process. Korean Journal of Sociology, 46(4), 264–293. (In Korean) Ku, I., Kim, S. & Yuyama, A. (2012). Comparative study of Homelessness in Korea and Japan. Economy and Society, 96, 328–359. (In Korean) Lee, T. Noh, D., Nam, K., Joung, W., Joo, Y., Kim, S. & Woo, S. (2007). Evaluating and Improving Homeless Policy. Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. (In Korean) Lee, T., Hyun, S., Kim, S., Woo, S.& Kim, J. (2010). Evaluation and reorganization of housing welfare policies. Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. Research Paper No. 2010–14. (In Korean) Ministry of Health and Welfare. (2014). Handbook of homeless policy. Sejong: Ministry of Health and Welfare. (In Korean) Ministry of Health and Welfare. (2015). Handbook of homeless policy. Sejong: Ministry of Health and Welfare. (In Korean) Ministry of Health and Welfare. (2016). Handbook of homeless policy. Sejong: Ministry of Health and Welfare. (In Korean)
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Nam, K. (2004). The homeless and the vagabond as a social service client. Dongduk Journal of Life Science Studies, 9, 129–141. (In Korean) Nam, K. (2011). Social welfare and housing service for the homeless in Korea. Journal of Critical Social Policy, 31, 121–159. (In Korean) Nam, K. (2013). A study on social service for the chronic homeless in Korea. Journal of Critical Social Policy, 39, 7–43. (In Korean) Seo, J. (2005). Existence and life of the homeless women. The Journal of Asiatic Studies, 48(2), 59–85. (In Korean) Shin, M. (2011). A study on the causes of homelessness in Korea: Focusing on the male homeless Urbanity & Poverty, 90, 13–44. (In Korean) Shinn, M. (2007). International homelessness: Policy, socio-cultural and individual perspectives. Journal of Social Issues, 63(3), 657–677. Toro, P.A., Tompsett, C.J., Lombardo, S., Philippot, P., Nachtergael, H., Galand, B., Schlienz, N., Stammel, N., Yabar, Y. & Blume, M. (2007). Homelessness in Europe and the United States: A comparison of prevalence and public opinion. Journal of Social Issues, 63(3), 505–524.
Homelessness in Hong Kong The evolution of official homeless assistance and the context of housing Geerhardt Kornatowski and Hung Wong
Introduction Homelessness has been a fairly marginal social issue within Hong Kong’s urban context. This is not a surprising given the fact that Hong Kong was previously known for its large scale squatter settlements in the old urban area fringes and its immense resettlement projects which resulted in its current public housing system. Today, scholarly research is focused on ongoing urban renewal projects and schemes or issues with housing and poverty in general. Hong Kong’s rapid economic growth in conjunction with the public rental housing scheme, for some time, appeared to have been able to provide housing of some kind without leaving anyone out. This changed, to a certain extent, with the advent of the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s. Suddenly, homelessness became a visible social issue that required government intervention. This chapter focuses on the most visible form of homelessness in Hong Kong, that is individuals sleeping rough in public places, as well as its less visible form, mainly precarious housing conditions in unstable and substandard accommodation. The objective of this chapter is to place sleeping rough in public spaces in the context of Hong Kong’s political economy and to identify structural as well as individual hurdles to overcoming such form of homeless. First, we provide a historical background of the issue and the development of homelessness assistance services. We then focus on common housing resources used by the homeless and those who have managed to overcome homelessness, before further examining the current situation. A summary and some suggestions are provided in the conclusion.
Policy background Seen from both public measures and frontline assistance, the ‘homeless’ in Hong Kong can be divided into two categories (Blundell 1993, Kornatowski, 2008). The first category, which is of particular interest in this paper is that of the ‘street sleepers’. These are the so-called rough sleepers who do not have an address and sleep in public spaces such as parks, sidewalks, and open areas under flyovers. They constitute the most visible form of homelessness. The second category is that of the ‘bedspace lodgers’. Bedspaces, including so-called ‘cagehomes’ (Cheung,
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2000), are tiny subdivided one-person apartments often found in old decrepit tenement buildings. The extremely substandard living environment makes these apartments the most affordable form of privately rented housing. Since only few have air-conditioning or proper ventilation installed, many residents prefer the open air during the hot and humid summer. Both categories have been the focus of what was initially voluntary but later followed by governmental interventions, which resulted in an assistance framework centered on outreach, transitory housing and public assistance (Kornatowski, 2010). Ever since street sleeping was recognized as a social issue, it was seen to be a social welfare concern, falling under the purview of Hong Kong’s Social Welfare Department (SWD). Following the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s and the subsequent increase of visible homelessness in Hong Kong’s prime public areas (Kornatowski, 2008), public measures and NGO assistance were set out in the 2001 ‘Three-year Action Plan to Help the Street Sleepers’. Below is a summary of the background of this Plan and the results it brought forth after its implementation (see also Table 7.1).
Table 7.1 Chronological overview of events in homeless services Emergence of “Street Sleepers Issue”
1977 1979 1980 1981 1983
Advent of Street Sleeper Assistance Street Sleeping as a Social Issue
“Street Sleeper Survey Project Report” by Hong Kong University “Cagehome Survey” by Hong Kong Chinese University “Report on Street Sleepers Issue” by HKCSS First Annual Street Sleeper Survey by SWD Street Sleepers Registrar “Cagehome Survey” by SWD “Survey on the Needs of Street Sleepers with Mental Disabilities” by HKCSS Start of Soup Kitchen by SSAC Pilot Hostel Program by SSAC International Year of Shelter for the Homeless Salvation Army Establishes a Day Center Outreach Activities on Hong Kong Island by SBSH Street Sleeper Survey by HK Polytechnic University and Shamshuipo District Office “Survey Report on Street Sleepers in Central Western District” by YWCA Establishment of “Central Coordinating Committee on Street Sleepers” by SWD Start of SWD Outreach Team (New) Street Sleepers Registry (digital) “Street Sleeper Survey” by CCHA
Homelessness in Hong Kong Temporary Housing Measures
1999 2001 2001 2002 2004 Professionalization of Street Sleeper Assistance
Report by “Working Group on Street Sleepers” (Appointed by SWD in 1991) First SWD Subvented Hostel (3 hostels for singletons older than 55) “Cage Home Survey” by SoCO Bedspace Ordinance by HAD Small Scale Hostels by AVS (Commissioned project by HAD) CCHA Establishes Day Center and Shelter St. James’ Settlement Establishes Day Center and Emergency Shelter Medical Outreach Pilot Program (Subvented by SWD until 1999) “Position Paper on the Cagehome Issue” by SoCO Establishment of Sunrise House (Urban hostel subvented by HAD) “Hong Kong Street Sleepers Survey” by SoCO Establishment of Highstreet House (Urban hostel subvented by HAD) “Three Year Action Plan” “Cagehome Survey” by SoCO “Integrated System” (Outsourcing by SWD to the Three Integrated Team NPOs) “Survey on Cagehomes and Cubicles” by SoCO “The 2008 Cagehome Survey” by SoCO Opening of “Soup Kitchen Center” by SSAC “Professional Assistance to Street Sleepers with Mental Diseases” by CCHA “2010 Street Sleepers Survey” by SoCO “Survey on Wooden Partitioned Apartments” by SoCO
Emergence of the ‘street sleeper issue’ (1977–1985) The earliest documented surveys on street sleepers and cagehome dwellers were conducted through university students’ projects between 1977 and 1979 and dealt mostly with the existing number of street sleepers and their daily life conditions. These surveys also mentioned some available services for street sleepers that were managed by NGOs. Around that time there were three shelters for street sleepers older than 55 managed by Street Sleepers Shelter Trustees Inc. (established in 1933), which together held a capacity of 314 persons. There was also a small-scale shelter for women run by the Salvation Army (SoCO, 1999). The estimated numbers hovered between 800 and 1,000 (University of Hong Kong Social Work and Social Administration, 1977). The number of cagehome dwellers was estimated to
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be around 10,000 (Hong Kong Council of Social Service, 1983). Since both surveys were conducted as minor pilot research projects, these figures most probably did not reflect the breadth of the phenomena at that time. However, following these two surveys, the SWD initiated its own survey (“Annual Street Sleeper Survey”) in 1980 and set up a registry in 1981 to officially keep track of street sleeper cases. Moreover, the SWD conducted a cagehome survey in 1983, and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) also followed with a survey on street sleepers with mental disabilities. The HKCSS is statutory umbrella organization of welfarerelated NGOs and serves as a platform between NGOs and SWD. It is important to note that sleeping rough and living in cagehomes were not considered to be ‘housing issues’, but rather as a social welfare issue, making both for the province of SWD services. By conducting their own survey, the HKCSS effectively highlighted the need for improved services on part of the SWD and advocated for more professional resources on part of NGOs. This caught the attention of several NGOs as well as related District Council members, thereby increasing public awareness on homelessness. According to a survey conducted by the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in 1982, there were primarily two kinds of street sleepers. One kind comprised those suffering from forms of addiction, mental diseases, old age, and those who were lacking sound family ties. The second kind was those who gather early in the morning in Hong Kong’s inner-city areas such as Kennedy Town in HK Island and Sham Shui Po in Kowloon looking for day labor jobs. These men often sleep rough in the close vicinity of these areas (HKCSS, 1983). Crucially, since the SWD is only in charge of welfare issues, it could only hand out daily necessity items and/or social allowances for the elderly, which meant that street sleepers were not eligible for any rehousing benefits. The advent of assistance and street sleeping as a social issue (1985–1993) The United Nations’ ‘International Year of Shelter for the Homeless’ in 1987 impressed the need for more public effort in addressing homelessness, with the objective “to improve shelter and neighborhoods of some of the poor and disadvantaged by 1987, and to demonstrate by the year 2000, ways and means of improving the shelter and neighborhood of the poor and disadvantaged” (LegCo, 1987, p. 1888). The scope of assistance services was broadened and new steps were taken towards the development of an assistance framework. The narrow scope of public assistance for street sleepers was increasingly criticized after 1985. During this time, the number of street sleepers was rising and evictions for redevelopment projects in the old urban areas were intensifying. This situation prompted NGOs to step up their services. One illustration is the case of the Salvation Army (SA) based in the old urban area of Yau Ma Tei. One staff member established a pressure group to advocate for improved public assistance services (the SA kept a “politically” neutral relationship with the HK government). Together with other NGO key persons, he established ‘Street Sleepers Action Committee (SSAC)’ in response to the redevelopment-related
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evictions and the complicated procedures for street sleepers to apply for public security. While demanding public funding, they also started outreach programs and soup kitchens. Their action did not remain tied to these demands. Because the street sleepers were not eligible for any rehousing program at that time, SSAC started experimenting with the concept of transitory housing. Thus, the first ‘urban hostel’ program for individuals was initiated. The idea was to provide an alternative for the inferior living conditions of the existing shelters at that time and to lessen street sleeping. As a result, the SWD gradually opened up more funding for NGOs like the SA. The SA commenced its first publicly funded day center, urban hostel and outreach service in 1987. The SWD also began conducting outreach services, mostly aimed at the so-called ‘hardcore cases’, particularly street sleepers with severe mental disabilities. Other NGOs followed suit. That same year, St. Barnabas’ Home & Society (SBHS) in HK Island and the Christian Concern for the Homeless (CCHA) began their own street sleeper services in coordination with the government. Then, in 1991, the SWD established the ‘Central Coordinating Committee on Street Sleepers’ which was tasked with re-examining the concept of homelessness and reviewing the SWD’s welfare services for street sleepers. Temporary housing measures (1993–2001) Hong Kong’s Public Assistance (PA) changed into the current Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and the HK government worked towards improving the social welfare system in the run up to the handover of Hong Kong to China. In 1993, the Central Coordinating Committee published a report on the current state of services (and the lack of temporary housing) for street sleepers and the lethal fire incidents in cagehome tenement buildings at the time were causing public concern. As a result, homeless policy in general became more geared towards the use of transitory housing such as urban hostels. In relation to street sleeper services, the report also focused on more structural approaches such as housing policy, and it examined the role of NGOs within the services framework. The development of a legal policy framework was suggested (CCCSS, 1993). Fast admission into public rental housing in the main urban areas of Hong Kong and the non-criminalization of the act of street sleeping, in line with international human right standards, were considered. Unfortunately, prioritized access to public housing for the homeless did not come through as there were concerns as to whether or not this scarce housing resource would be best suited for admitting ex-street sleepers. There were suggestions to establish hostels in all main urban areas. A flow of services was laid out where the street sleepers would first make use of emergency shelters and then get assessed into hostels where they would receive professional care and services from the NGOs in charge. A key weakness of the approach was the insufficient attention given to the needs of the street sleepers themselves. For instance, the high rejection rate among street sleepers to make use of the substandard shelters and poor availability of information on hostels impeded the success of this system (SWD, 2001).
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For cagehome dweller services, a rehousing program was swiftly created. Cognizant of the 1990 bedspace apartment fire, the Home Affairs Department (HAD) issued an ordinance in 1993 to regulate this form of housing. However, out of concern that the ordinance would trigger a rent hike, the HAD copied the SWD’s funding framework for urban hostels. The first small-scale project was commissioned to the Agency for Volunteer Service (AVS). They managed a total of thirty hostels with a total capacity of 539 units. The rent was kept as low as 430 Hong Kong dollars (HKD) per month and all hostels were located is easy accessible urban areas. Later, to increase the overall capacity, the HAD funded two large-scale hostels to be managed by SA in 1998 and Neighbourhood Advice Action Council (NAAC) in 2001. Both facilities held a capacity 580 units. These hostels came to be known as “singleton hostels” and their concept and design became the standard. The professionalization of street sleeper services (from 2001 onward) The Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 had a disastrous effect on Hong Kong’s economy. The employment rate rose rapidly as many, especially from the lower income brackets, suffered from underemployment. A remarkable increase in the number of street sleepers was observed from 1999 onward. This increase, however, was not reflected in official data as the SWD seized their annual count and based their statistics solely on that of the Street Sleepers Registry. The NGOs at that time estimated the actual number to be at least threefold. What was remarkable was that street sleeping proliferated in a very visible way, with many were seeking refuge in Hong Kong’s prime public spaces. The average age of the street sleepers declined. Many were capable of working but simply had difficulty finding employment. A considerable number had a first-hand experience with unsheltered conditions. It was this increased visibility that drew the attention of the media and the general public, making rough sleeping a key social issue. Under these social conditions, one of Hong Kong’s most famous grassroots organizations, the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), conducted their own critical survey of the emerging street sleeper situation, and began using its political leverage to pressure the government for more public services. As a result, the SWD issued a new, detailed survey which led to the enactment of the “Three-year Action Plan to Help the Street Sleepers” in 2001. This Plan consolidated the official public service framework and put special focus on re-employment instead of a mere use of CSSA. To achieve this, vocational training and employment programs were set up in cooperation with the Labour Department (LD). Like before, the SWD took responsibility for developing a services framework for the street sleepers, but the actual provision was outsourced to NGOs. Under such partnership, three NGOs became responsible for conducting outreach programs and running transitory housing facilities (hostels and shelters). So-called ‘Integrated Teams’ were designated their own operational territory, with the St. James’ Settlement (SJS) being in charge of HK Island and the outlying islands (mainly the HK International Airport), SA of the Yau Tsim Mok District in Kowloon, and CCHA of the rest of Kowloon (mainly Sham Shui Po District), and the
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New Territories. In addition, other NGOs were tasked with auxiliary roles (see also Kornatowski, 2010). When the Plan came to an end in 2004, the official number of street sleepers had decreased to less than 1,000 persons. As a result, the SWD decided to retire its own outreach team and to leave the Integrated Teams fully in charge of service provision. The budget of the Plan was to be extended yearly to the Teams in order to run their ‘one-stop services’ of outreach programs, emergency shelters, and hostels. However, the budget did not include day centers, and some closed down due the lack of funding. The allocation of sufficient funding resulted in the further professionalization of NGO street sleeper services. The overall situation would remain more or less unchanged until the international financial turmoil of 2008. So, what happens after exiting homelessness? The next section will focus on the common housing resources for the ex-homeless. They may live there temporarily, while awaiting admission to a public rental housing unit, or they may choose to remain there permanently due to the favorable location in the old urban area inner-city areas.
Common forms of substandard private housing The most easily accessible forms of private housing are the unstable and substandard apartments that represent a form of homelessness. As of 2011, the number of renters was estimated to be about 100,000 persons, of which about half applied for a public rental housing unit (SoCO, 2011, p. 3). In general, the apartments are characterized by their extremely tiny living spaces and exorbitantly high rents per square meter. The average household would be paying 37% of their disposable income to cover these rents (SoCO, 2008). In general, we can divide these apartments into two categories (Table 7.2 below provides a summary of substandard private rental apartments). The first one is comprised of illegal structures on rooftops, commonly called ‘rooftop huts’. This type of housing was mostly constructed in the 1960s and 1970s on top of middle-high rise Table 7.2 Summary of substandard private rental apartments (as of 2011) Average Size Rooftop Huts Subdivided Flats • Bedspace Apartment • Coffin Room • Cubicle • Self-Contained Room • Factory Flat
Average Rent (HK$)
Singletons and Families
Singletons, CSSA recipients
Singletons, CSSA recipients Two-person households, CSSA recipients
Source: Adapted from SoCO, 2011
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apartment buildings, without any building permit. These are thus illegal structures, yet in practice their purchase/sale and renting is officially acknowledged and subjected to government rent and rates. The second category may be lumped together as ‘subdivided flats’. The most known are the cagehomes and ‘cubicles’ or ‘wooden partitioned rooms’. Recently, other types have gained prominence, such as ‘coffin rooms’, ‘suite rooms’ (‘self-contained rooms’) which are commonly known under the term ‘subdivided flats’ and ‘factory flats’. All these types are modifications to existing apartments mainly by subdividing spaces into several smaller rooms and subletting them on the market. Subdividing itself is not illegal, yet many of these apartments do not have the required safety permits, etc. Below is a more detailed description of all types. Rooftop huts As with the old types of subdivided flats, the rooftop hut phenomenon originates from the overcrowded conditions in Hong Kong’s old urban areas in the periods after WWII and the pre-1998 rent controls. Although they are illegal constructions (generally by the owner of the building), they are tolerated to a certain extent (Chui, 2009). The Building Department can order the removal of these structures but the enforcement relevant policies can vary depending on the perceived risks. The buildings with one staircase are often old Chinese tenement buildings, and the huts themselves are often flimsy structures made out of wood or corrugated material, which make them vulnerable to fire and water leaking. The structures on newer buildings with multiple staircases are generally better in quality, which make them less prone to disaster. Rooftop huts usually house three to six households, although there are also cases of more than thirty households (Wu et al., 2008). Compared to subdivided flats, households tend to be more than two persons, with many of these being elderly, new immigrants, CSSA recipients, etc. In 2008, the total number of household living in these structures were estimated to be around 4,000, with 32% being single households and 56% being nuclear families. On the other hand, several NGOs estimated the total number to be around 10,000 persons (SoCO, 2011). One of the most reported difficulties is the lack of elevators in old tenement buildings. The rooftop may be as high as the tenth floor, which makes going out a strenuous effort, especially in case of elderly households. Subdivided flats These are extremely tiny rooms, or mere bedspaces, which are often sublet by a main tenant. Recently, new forms have emerged, stirring public concerns over safety and high rents (SoCO 2008, 2011). Cubicles Cubicles are often apartment spaces subdivided into smaller rooms with wooden boards, and thus often called ‘wooden partitioned rooms’. This practice dates from the 1920s and 1930s when Hong Kong experienced rapid population influxes
Homelessness in Hong Kong
(Cheung, 1979). Most current cubicles have double bunk beds in order to house multi-member households as well. Since the apartments are subdivided to hold as many rooms as possible, the hallways are narrow and the upper part of partition is left open for ventilation purposes. Only a few rooms in the front part of the flat have windows and these are generally more expensive in rent. The rooms lack airconditioning and most residents endure the heat in the humid summer months with fans. During these months, temperatures in these rooms easily rise to an average of 38°C. Electric wiring and other fixtures are often primitive, making the living environment hazardous. Kitchen and toilet is shared among as many as fifteen households. Many of the current residents are elderly singletons and new immigrants (SoCO, 2011). Most are eligible for public rental housing but they often choose to remain in such dwellings since available units are often located in far-away estates in the New Territories. Data from 1991 estimated the total population living in cubicles to be around 70,000 persons. Rents were up to 520 HKD per month, but in some places this had almost doubled in the following years (Wu et al., 2008). Bedspace apartments As mentioned earlier, bedspaces are mostly known to the public as ‘cagehomes’ because of their original appearance as steel wired cages. These wires serve as protection for personal belongings and ventilation. It is also the most documented form of housing for the poor. Blundell (1993) noted the geographical concentration of cagehomes as being close to the harbor and industrial areas, where opportunities for cheap labor most abundant. The main areas are the old urban areas of Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Tai Kok Tsui, Sham Shui Po, To Kwa Wan, and Kowloon City, where many basic facilities such as markets and cheap eateries are located (Blundell, 1993, p. 4, p. 38). On the other hand, cagehomes are the worst form of housing in terms of living environment, health, and security. Basic amenities often have to be shared by more than twenty persons. On average, the size of each unit varies from 1.4 square meters to 3.4 square meters, and smallest ever reported was around 1.0 square meters. Rents averaged around 280 HKD in 1999 but this had tripled by 2010. Most of the residents were elderly singletons with an average age of 55 and 90% male with a disposable income of 2,400 HKD. Those that were employed worked in the manufacturing sector (23%), service sector (20%), security guard business (17%), and construction sector (17%) (SoCO, 2011). Suite rooms (self-contained rooms) In addition to the traditional forms of housing for the poor, new forms emerged after the 2000s and caught the attention of the general public due to safety hazards such as fires. Most known are the ‘suite rooms’, also commonly known as ‘subdivided flats’ (in Chinese: ‘cut rooms’) (see, for example, Hui, 2011; Lee, 2011). In contrast to cubicles, most have their own toilet and kitchen installed, making them ‘selfcontained rooms’. Initial surveys on resident profiles such as the Sham Shui Po District Council Transport and Housing Survey (2011) revealed that 65% are married households, 20% are singletons, and more than half had been living in Hong
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Kong for less than seven years. All rooms were installed with toilets, yet only half had showers. When asked for the reasons of choosing this type of housing, 65% replied ‘cheap rents’ and 50% stated ‘close to work’. More than 65% found their unit through real estate companies. As much as 60% were on the Housing Authority’s waiting list for a public rental housing unit. Only 22% were CSSA recipients and 40% had temporary jobs. The average income was 7,000 HKD. Lastly, the report also delved into the background of the emergence of this type of housing and concluded that “the demand for cheap housing rose during the economic downturn of the 2000s, which caused the phenomenon of subdividing”. This practice is mostly found in old buildings (from the 1960s), because they allow for interior changes and are less regulated. However, after fire and building collapse incidents made the news in the late 2000s, the government stepped up building inspections. Coffin rooms Just as the former cagehomes, recent pressure on the existing housing stocks in Hong Kong’s inner-city areas precipitated more extreme forms such as the ‘coffin rooms’. Resembling the Japanese ‘capsule hotels’, these rooms are mere subdivided bedspaces, yet with a more modern look to it than cagehomes (Li, 2011). Some rooms are comprised of three-level rooms, which are in violation of the bedspace ordinance which states that the maximum amount of stacked rooms can be two. Residents of this type of housing are often new immigrants from China, persons suffering from forms of addiction, CSSA recipients and even illegal immigrants (Li, 2011). Factory flats Lastly are the factory flats. Following Hong Kong’s de-industrialization, numerous inner-city industrial buildings, such as in Kwun Tong and Tai Kok Tsui, have been vacated and left underused. During the late 2000s, some of these premises were appropriated and subdivided in flats (SoCO, 2011). Considering their average size, these flats are one of the cheapest forms of private rental housing (Ngo, 2011). However, these rooms are often ill-equipped in terms of electrical wiring and related features, which means that they are lacking in safety. Moreover, the apartments are illegal due to industrial zoning rules, and several fire incidents have made these apartments prone to government investigations (Hui, 2011). Compared to the suite rooms, factory flats house multi-member households and are mainly inhabited by new immigrants from China (Ngo, 2011).
Resurgence of homelessness after 2008 After the establishment of pilot homeless service teams operated by three NGOs from 2001 to 2004, the number of homeless persons in Hong Kong reduced significantly from 2002 to 2007 (see Figure 7.1 below). According to the official Street Sleepers Registry managed by the Social Welfare Department, the number of street sleepers in Hong Kong witnessed a drastic decrease from 1,320 in 2001
Homelessness in Hong Kong
1400 1320 1200
No. of Street Sleepers in Registry
1000 876 800
555 463 399
403 360 327
0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Figure 7.1 Number of street sleepers in the Street Sleeper Registry between 2000 and 2015 Source: Social Welfare Department, HKSAR Government; Street Sleeper Registry, various years
to 327 in 2007, almost a 75% decrease in merely six years. This trend, however, reversed after 2008 when the number of street sleepers sharply rose to 811 in 2015, similar to the situation of 2002. We can therefore observe a U-shape curve of the number of street sleepers from 2001 to 2015 in Figure 7.1. In reality, the situation proved to be worse as the figures in the official registry only reflected the most visible homeless persons in Hong Kong, those sleeping in the street as identified by the NGOs and the CSSA. Homeless persons who did not receive services from the NGOs or CSSA were not recorded in the official registry. The official registry does not include those homeless persons sleeping in twenty-four-hour fast food shops and transitory housing facilities as homeless persons sleeping in the streets or public spaces are officially counted. Wong, Li and Sun (2004) estimated the total number of homeless persons at 898 through a census survey in 2004, which was nearly double the 463 persons in the registry. Universities and NGOs conducted two surveys in 2013 and in 2015, named Homeless Outreach Population Estimation (H.O.P.E.) Hong Kong, to gain a more precise number of homeless. The figures reached 1,414 and 1,614 persons in 2013 and 2015 respectively. These figures were also about double of the figures in the official registry (see Figure 7.2 and Table 7.3 below). A closer look at the statistics of the H.O.P.E. 2015 survey reveals that, among the 1,614 homeless persons in Hong Kong, about half (48.3%) were street sleepers, about one in six (15.9%) of them slept in the twenty-four-hour fast food shops, and more than one-third (35.8%) were staying in shelters and singleton hostel facilities.
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Total no. of homeless (1614, 100%)
24-hour fast-food restaurants (256, 15.9%)
Street sleepers (780, 48.3%)
Persons observed (689, 42.7%)
Temporary shelters / singleton hostels (578, 35.8%)
Only sleeping places observed (91, 5.6%)
Figure 7.2 Categories of homeless persons found in H.O.P.E. Hong Kong 2015 Source: H.O.P.E. Hong Kong (2015) p. 10
Table 7.3 Different group of homeless persons in Hong Kong, 2013 & 2015
Street sleepers Homeless sleeping in twenty-four-hour fast food shops Temporary shelters and singleton hostels Total
Source: Authors own, from H.O.P.E Hong Kong 2015, p. 11
According to these statistics, the official registry recorded about half of the homeless population, mainly street sleepers. If we compare the figures from H.O.P.E. 2013 and H.O.P.E. 2015, the total number of homeless persons increased from 1,414 in 2013 to 1,614 in 2015, which accounts for a 14.1% growth in a two-year time frame. The most significant growth was among the category of homeless persons sleeping in twenty-four-hour fast food shops, a significant increase of 349%. Another increase could be seen in the homeless persons residing in temporary shelters and singleton hostels (+39%). Only the category of street sleepers showed a decrease (−17.2%). This illustrates a tremendous increase of less visible homeless persons such as those staying in twenty-four-hour fast food shops. However, the increase of this figure did not relate to first-time and younger homeless persons, who are not yet accustomed to sleeping in the streets. According
Homelessness in Hong Kong
180 160 2013
140 120 100 80
35 26 23
20 0 < 3 mths 3–less than 6 mths
6–less than 12 mths
1–less than 3 years
3–less than 5 years
5–less 10 than 10 years & years over
Figure 7.3 Duration of homelessness in 2013 and 2015 Source: Authors own, from H.O.P.E. Hong Kong (2015) p. 21
to the H.O.P.E. surveys, the average age of homeless persons in Hong Kong was 54.9 in 2013 and 54.5 in 2015, which was nearly the same. Nevertheless, the duration of being in a state of homelessness increased significantly. The average and median duration of being homeless was 3.9 years and thirty months in 2013, and the average and median duration of being homeless increased to 5.1 years and 96 months in 2015 (Figure 7.3). This prolonged duration suggests that short-term homeless persons were not able to secure housing and ended up being in mediumterm and long-term homelessness. In the H.O.P.E. 2015 survey, among the 372 respondents who successfully completed the face-to-face survey, 92.5% of them were male and 7.5% were female, while 42.6% were single and 37.1% were divorced or separated from their spouses. The majority (89.9%) of the homeless were Hong Kong Chinese. Among the non-Chinese (10.1%), 55.6% were Vietnamese and 18.5% were Nepalese. The highest education level attained of most of 46.6% of the respondents was primary and below. Relating to the respondents’ working and economic conditions, 127 (35.5%) had income through employment. For those unemployed, among the 201 respondents who responded on their length of unemployment, 65.7% were unemployed for more than two years, 10.9% for one to two years and 23.4% for less than one year. All in all, most of Hong Kong’s homeless are long-term
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unemployed for more than two years. When asked about the amount of their present or latest monthly income from employment, 208 respondents responded and the median of their monthly income was 6,377 HKD, which is slightly less than the monthly income of a full-time minimum wage worker. However, 39.4% of those who reported their income stated it was less than 5,000 HKD. About half (48.3%) of the homeless persons received CSSA; 29.4% received regular pay from their employment, while 9.7% obtained income through waste picking; and 9.1% stated they receive financial assistance from NGOs. Before becoming homeless, most were living in substandard low-rent housing forms as described above. About one-third (31.3%) were living in cubicles, bedspaces, or even cagehomes; about one-fourth (23.0%) resided in public housing, and about one-fifth (17.8%) lived in subdivided self-contained rooms (see Table 7.4). Regarding the conditions of their previous housing, the average size of their accommodation was 245 square feet (22.76 square meters), the rent median and average wage 1,700 HKD and 2,067.80 HKD respectively. A very high proportion of their monthly income, 34.6%, was spent on rent. Such expensive and everescalating rent pose a heavy financial burden for the working poor, thereby representing an important structural cause for the current increase in homelessness. About one-third (33.8%) of the homeless moved home during the two-year period before becoming homeless. In this period, the average number of moves were as high as 2.6. This illustrates that low-income groups have to frequently move around in Hong Kong’s old urban areas to find affordable accommodation. However, eventually, a considerable number found that they could no longer secure any affordable accommodation and thus, ended up on the streets or in twenty-four-hour fast-food shops.
Table 7.4 Type of accommodation before street sleeping Frequency Private owned housing/Home ownership Scheme housing Private rental housing (whole flat) Private rental housing (subdivided selfcontained flats) Private rental housing (cubicles/ bedspaces/cagehomes) Public rental housing/Emergency shelters Rooftop huts and other forms of substandard housing such as boat-houses Workplace (e.g. restaurant/factory/ building site) Other Total
Source: Authors own, from H.O.P.E. Hong Kong 2015, p. 22
Homelessness in Hong Kong
Table 7.5 Reasons for becoming homeless (multiple responses) Reason
1. Unemployed and cannot afford rent 2. Cannot get along with relatives/ roommates 3. Personal choice 4. Overcrowding/extremely bad housing conditions 5. Saving money 6. End of rent contract/evicted by landlord 7. Bug infestations in previous housing 8. Locational convenience (work/living) 9. Drug addictions, alcoholism 10. Cannot find housing after discharged from hospital/jail/anti-drug centers 11. Excessive gambling 12. Health-related issues 13. Cannot find housing after redevelopment 14. Family in China/immigrate to overseas 15. Forced to move out from emergency shelters 16. Other Total
% of Respondents
19 14 12 13
3.20% 2.30% 2.00% 2.20%
5.60% 4.20% 3.60% 3.90%
8 7 7
1.30% 1.20% 1.20%
2.40% 2.10% 2.10%
Source: Author’s own, from H.O.P.E. Hong Kong 2015, p. 24
Concerning the reasons of becoming homeless (refer to Table 7.5 above), 23.7% of the respondents claimed to be ‘unemployed and cannot afford rent’, 17.5% claimed ‘having problems getting with relatives/roommates’, 11.3% claimed because of ‘personal choice’, 10.4% because of ‘overcrowding/ bad housing conditions’ and 8.6% in order to ‘save money’. In total, more than one-third (34.1%) of the respondents mentioned economic reasons such as unaffordable rents as the main reason for becoming homeless. When the respondents were asked what reasons impeded their exit out of homelessness, more than half (52.4%) stated that ‘rents in private housing are too high’, one-third (29.8%) stated it was due to the ‘lack or instability of jobs’, ‘income was too low’ (15.6%), ‘waiting time for public housing was too low’ (21.3%) and ‘rent allowance of CSSA was too low’ (12.4%). The survey also examined the scope of social interaction and service utilization among the respondents. Only 44.8% maintained frequent contacts with relatives
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and friends; and just more than half (59.9%) were in contact with social workers or social service organizations. Many respondents indicated special needs other than the lack of affordable housing and low incomes. About 32% reported that they were suffering chronic illness which required frequent check-ups. Among the 110 chronically ill respondents, twenty (5.8%) were psychiatric patients. Moreover, 15.6% reported that they were physically disabled; 26.6% respondents reported that they had gambling addictions; 28.7% excessively consumed alcohol, and 13.3% abused drugs. Alcoholism, substance abuse, and addictive behaviours were the primary personal causes for long duration homelessness. These problems are more complicated than the ones due to economic reasons. Many of the respondents had been previously rehoused through the assistance services by the integrated teams, yet had relapsed again into homelessness. Other than securing housing and finding employment, these homeless people with special needs required appropriate rehabilitation services to assist them out of the trap of homelessness. In short, over 80% of the homeless people had housing needs. Most of them were single. About half were receiving CSSA, with the rent allowance capped at 1,735 HKD. The average monthly rent for the cheapest forms of private rental housing such as cubicles and bedspaces was about 1,800–2,000 HKD. Because toilets and kitchens were shared with other tenants (which is often the source of dispute between tenants) and the hot, humid, and unhygienic environment during the summer months, many of the homeless felt it was not worth using more than 30% of their income for these substandard accommodations. In other words, it forced them (back) into homelessness. In 2013, the average relapse rate was 2.8 times; but, in 2015, the relapse had already increased to 4.18 times. The only other option than living in private rental housing was a referral by social workers to singleton hostels. However, the service periods of these hostels were relatively short and the quotas were limited. There were about 280 bed units in these hostels and the duration was one to three months. The maximum period of subsidized hostel places for homeless persons was six months, which is based on the assumption that a homeless person should be able to return to a self-dependent housed life after this duration. However as stated above, in reality, the living conditions in the private rental housing are in some ways even worse than living in the streets. Moreover, the existing quota system for single people applying for public rental housing makes it an unreliable option because the average waiting times can be as long as twenty years. This also relates to the fact that a number of homeless people relapse to ‘street sleeping’ after being discharged from hostels. In some instances, structural and individual issues go hand in hand. Those who are long-term unemployed for more than two years lose contact with former employers and work colleagues, and re-entry into the labor market becomes increasingly difficult. More than half of the long-term unemployed had also lost contact with their families and friends, and have severed social support networks. According to the social workers, some homeless persons previously engaged in crime and drugs are prone to recommitting crime and are jailed for multiple times. All these problems formed a viscous cycle and trap these people in the homeless situation.
Homelessness in Hong Kong
Conclusion Starting from the historical background of homeless assistance services, this chapter has attempted to shed light on Hong Kong’s homelessness issue, by focusing on public policy, substandard housing conditions, and current trends. While a onestop service in the form of a public-NGO partnership has been put in place since the early 2000s, structural barriers have been unsuccessfully addressed and exacerbated after the 2010s. Even though several NGOs are providing professionalized services and, in many instances, still take on an advocating role, low wages and unaffordable rents impede exit from homelessness. Since casual and accessible forms of employment concentrate in Hong Kong’s central areas, many are forced to find accommodation in the old urban areas, often with substandard conditions and overpriced rent. Recent rounds of redevelopment projects in these areas also pose a threat to the remaining numbers of substandard yet accessible housing. Apart from these structural issues, individual-related issues remain unaddressed, such as mental health issues and the need for personalized care services. Many of the so-called ‘hardcore’ cases have been unsuccessful in exiting homelessness due to inadequate services that could keep them housed or sheltered. Drawing from the presented evidence, the following recommendations are being put forth: First, transitory housing should have a minimum duration of more than three years. Other than accommodation services, a more extensive one-stop service of integrated support including resources for mental rehabilitation services, counselling, and employment assistance should be set up to actively solve the homeless’ social, psychological, and rehabilitation needs. Second, the duration of singleton hostels should be extended to at least one year or one and a half years. Third, it would be ideal to encourage the HKSAR Government, real estate developers, NGOs, and private landlords to release unoccupied buildings and flats to the NGOs or social businesses as temporary forms of (social) housing in order to practically address the housing problem in the next few years. Fourth, establish outreach health services for homeless persons by subsidizing mobile health service units that can take care of the physical and mental health of homeless persons in all districts in Hong Kong. The fifth recommendation is for the Government to reinitiate the Homeless Census annually or bi-annually, to conduct official surveys that can more accurately estimate the number of homeless persons, and to obtain a better understanding of the homelessness situation. The last recommendation is the formulation of an overarching, comprehensive government policy for the homeless, together with different departments, service agencies and homeless interest groups. This policy should state clear objectives in tackling homeless that can be held accountable to the public.
References Blundell, C. (1993). Hong Kong’s hidden homeless: Street sleepers and cage house men. Hong Kong: Department of Public and Social Administration, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City Polytechnic of Hong Kong.
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Central Coordinating Committee on Street Sleepers (CCCSS). (1993). Report of the working group on street sleepers. Hong Kong: Health and Welfare Branch Hong Kong. Cheung, S.K. (2000). Speaking out: Days in the lives of three Hong Kong cage dwellers. Positions, 8(1), 235–262. Cheung, S.N.S. (1979). Rent control and housing reconstruction: The postwar experience of prewar premises in Hong Kong. Journal of Law and Economics, 22(1), 27–53. Chui, E. (2009). Rooftop housing in housing: An introduction. In R. Wu & S. Canham (Eds.) Portraits from above: Hong Kong’s informal rooftop communities. Berlin: Peperoni Books, pp. 246–259. HKCSS. (1983). Editorial: Homelessness in Hong Kong. Welfare Digest, 108, 1–3. H.O.P.E (2015), Homeless Outreach Population Estimation (H.O.P,E.) Hong Kong 2015 survey report. Hong Kong: H.O.P.E project retrieved at https://www.dropbox.com/ s/p9dn501e21vmehx/HOPE_2015_Final_Report_Chi.pdf?dl=0 (in Chinese). Hui, P. (2011). Hong Kong faces renewed pressure over its housing: Fatal tenement fire highlights dire conditions as high costs force city’s poor into subdivided apartments. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from www.WSJ.com (Accessed July 20). Kornatowski, G. (2008). The reconceptualization of homeless policy and the social welfare response of non-governmental organizations in Hong Kong. Japanese Journal of Human Geography, 60(6), 53–76. Kornatowski, G. (2010). Partnerships and governance: Struggle, cooperation, and the role of NGOs in welfare delivery for the homeless in Hong Kong. Cities, Culture & Society, 1(3), 155–164. Lee, S. (2011). Safety push over cubicle homes likely to prove mammoth task. The Standard, June 29. Retrieved from www.thestandard.com.hk. Legislative Council (LegCO). (1987). Official report of proceedings: 1839–1905. Retrieved from www.legco.gov.hk/yr86-87/english/lc_sitg/hansard/h870701.pdf Li., H. (2011). Coffin: The dwelling narrowness of the HK poor. China News. Retrieved from www.ecns.cn (Accessed July 4). Ngo, J. (2011). Boom in illegal factory flats. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from www.scmp.com (Accessed July 27). Sham Shui Po District Council Transport and Housing Affairs Committee. (2011). Old buildings featuring suite rooms in Sham Shui Po. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Sau Po Centre on Ageing and Policy. (In Chinese) SoCO (1999) Survey report on street sleepers in Hong Kong. Society for Community Organization, Hong Kong. (In Chinese) SoCO. (2008). Survey report on cagehomes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Society for Community Organization. (In Chinese) SoCO. (2011). Survey report on sub-divided apartments. Hong Kong: Society for Community Organization. (In Chinese) SWD (2001) Survey of street sleepers. Hong Kong: Research and Statistics Section. University of Hong Kong Social Work and Social Administration. (1977). Survey report of the concern of street sleepers project. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University. Wong, H., Li, P.W. & Sun, Y.K. (2004). Final service evaluation report of evaluative research on street sleeper services. Hong Kong: Division of Social Studies, City Universities of Hong Kong. (In Chinese) Wu, R. & Canham, S. (2008). Portraits from above: Hong Kong’s informal rooftop communities. Berlin: Peperoni Books.
A unique sustainable livelihoods strategy How resilient homeless families survive on the streets of Metro Manila, Philippines Justin Nicolas and Mel Gray
Introduction This chapter examines homelessness in Metro Manila, Philippines and the most recent state policy response, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF). It discusses the mechanics of the MCCT-HSF and its convergence with other poverty reduction programs. Two cases of family beneficiaries are presented as an example of the unique ‘sustainable livelihood’ strategy of two resilient families, who have adapted to, and learnt to survive on the streets of Metro Manila. The chapter questions the effectiveness of the MCCT-HSF given the absence of a dedicated policy on homelessness in the Philippines. The Philippines does not have a dedicated policy on homelessness. Instead, homelessness is dealt with in terms of existing housing and welfare policy. This includes the most recent social protection measure, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF), which forms the subject of this paper. Funding for this program falls within the budget of the premier welfare department, the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It is a transitional social protection measure, along with accompanying services, to move people from the streets into permanent housing. The Philippines, as an archipelago comprising more than 7,100 islands, has been a favorite tourist destination because of its rich biodiversity, beautiful beaches, and multiethnic culture. After the restoration of democracy in 1986, the country slowly endeavored to gain foreign investor confidence. Awarded with first-grade investment credit rating (Francisco & Lema, 2013), the Philippines is considered one of the most improved countries in Asia with a steady growth of 6.3% over the last six years. With a score of 63.1 points on the Economic Freedom Index, it is categorized as ‘moderately free’ and ranked 70th in the world, and 14th in the AsiaPacific Region (Heritage Foundation, 2016). Further, the Philippines was ranked 116 out of 188 countries on the 2015 Human Development Index with an improved 68.3 year’s life expectancy after birth, 9.3 mean years of schooling, and 8,395 USD gross national income (GNI) per capita or an HDI value of 0.683 (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2016). However, the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) reported a 26.3% poverty incidence (population below the poverty line) in the country in the first quarter of 2015, with a subsistence incidence
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(the proportion of families in extreme poverty) estimated at 9.2% for the same period (PSA, 2016). For a Filipino family of five members, the food threshold is PHP 6,365 (131 USD) per month, while the poverty threshold (monthly income to move out of poverty) is 9,140 PHP (188 USD). The income gap remains at 29% or 2,649 PHP (55 USD) short of the poverty threshold (PSA, 2016). The PSA (2013) reported that 5.7 million people (14.5% of the population) were experiencing hunger and of these, 142,000 (15.3%) lived in the National Capital Region (NCR). Landry (2008, p. 40) described Metro-Manila as a polarized city, where ‘formalized scavenging’ has kept the homeless and hungry in the shadows of large shopping malls, skyscrapers, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle of what might be considered the ‘creative class’ (Florida, 2012, p. 57).
Homelessness in Metro Manila With an estimated population of 102.64 million (100.98 million in the 2015 census), the Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world (Worldatlas. com, 2016). Metro Manila, the nation’s capital, has the highest homeless population in the world (Castillo, 2014). As of August 2015, the estimated number of people living in slums in Metro Manila had reached 4.93 million (PSA, 2016; UN, 2016). Of these, around 36,000 families (0.2%) lived in areas and structures not intended for human habitation, and 9,716 families lived in the NCR (National Statistics Office (NSO), 2008). Earlier studies hypothesized that the homeless in Manila were former slum dwellers, who, following relocation to far-flung sites as part of the creative cities initiative, had returned to the streets (Aoki, 2008; Porio, 2002). However, Visetpricha (2015) found that, apart from structural violence, reasons for living on the streets were far more complex, and might be due to circumstances not of homeless people’s own making. Others have critiqued the notion that people are homeless by choice (Parsell & Parsell, 2012). A common sight in the Philippines is homeless street families living in karitons – makeshift wooden pushcarts – that serve as a ‘mobile home and business’. In 2015, there were 3,500 street families in Quezon City and Manila, who were targeted beneficiaries of the MCCT-HSF. This expanded Filipino version of the conditional cash transfer program, partially funded by AUSAID, included several services, and extended to street dwellers and their families without a permanent address. In terms of this expanded program, so-called ‘partner families’ are given shelter assistance and access to job and livelihood opportunities through the sustainable livelihood and cash-for-work initiatives, respectively. The program is run in partnership with local government and non-governmental organizations and is guided by a ‘convergence framework’, which seeks to integrate social protection through the MCCT-HSF with social services and direct payments. The social safety net comprising social insurance and social assistance, welfare-to-work and labor market initiatives, such as social enterprise development. Conditional cash transfers (CCT) are favored in aid-funded poverty reduction strategies (World Bank, 2009a) though, mostly, cash grants are minimal and homeless people survive on the streets through their own creativity and ingenuity (Brown,
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 113 2014). In the Philippines, the focus shifted to social protection following an evaluation of the Early Childhood Development Project funded by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, which recommended direct cash payments as a viable povertyalleviation measure (Behrman, Glewwe & Miguel, 2007; World Bank, 2009b). Subsequently, the first survey of homeless families in the Philippines coincided with the advent of Cebu City as a creative industries hub (Tomada, 2008). Following UNESCO’s promotion of creative cities, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint was meant to fortify the social protection strategy to enhance the resilience of marginalized groups, which included optimized financing systems, private-public-partnerships, and micro-entrepreneurship (ASEAN, 2016). However, rather than supplement their street livelihoods, the development of “creative cities” led to the “mass deportation” of homeless people (Berner, 2000, p. 555) and removed their “rights to the city” (Harvey, 2008; Lefebvre, 1968; Landry, 2008; Purcell, 2002). It put urban development ahead of housing for the homeless in the context of the minimalist welfare safety net.
Definition of homeless street families in social policy The UN (2014) referred to the term homeless as an ambiguous concept since there was no agreed international definition of homelessness. Nonetheless, it defined homelessness in terms of ‘rooflessness’, referring to “households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters, carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in any other space, on a more random basis” (UN, 2014, p. 22). However, as Somerville (2011a, 2011b) has noted, homelessness involves more than a lack of shelter and is multidimensional; it includes physiological (lack of comfort and warmth), emotional (lack of joy or love), territorial (lack of privacy), ontological (lack of rootedness in the world or anomie), and spiritual (lack of hope or lack or purpose) dimensions. There is some agreement that human settlement and social development policies and strategies need to take account of the multidimensional nature of homelessness (Fitzpatrick, 2005; Neale, 1997).
The Philippine Urban Development and Housing Act In the Philippines, homelessness has been defined in housing and welfare policy, i.e., in terms of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) (Republic of The Philippines, Act 7279, 1992) and the expanded MCCT-HSF program, respectively. The UDHA defined its beneficiaries broadly as ‘underprivileged and homeless citizens’ comprising: individuals or families residing in urban and urbanizable areas whose income or combined household income falls within the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority and who do not own housing facilities. This shall include those who live in makeshift dwelling units and do not enjoy security of tenure. (Republic of Philippines, 1992, Section 3)
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Table 8.1 Aoki’s (2013) distinction between slum and street dwellers Feature
Semi-permanent shelter, e.g., makeshift shanties Living space Fixed place Spatial location Urban periphery Life form Group living Network Tight network Visibility of existence Not readily visible in developed urban areas Community participation Capability to register and vote; Children have access to schools Identity Capability to gain official identification Employment Capability to have regular employment and attend school
(Homeless) street dweller Transient materials and mobile homes Always moving City downtown Living apart Loose network Visible in developed urban areas Difficulty to become registered voters Difficulty in getting or renewing identification cards Alternative sources of living
Source: Adapted from Aoki (2013)
Thus, in terms of the UDHA definition, homeless street families in the Philippines included squatters sleeping under, or living in, temporary shelters, such as train stations and vacant buildings, or in makeshift shelters made from plastic bags or recycled tarpaulins from advertising billboards. They sat at the midpoint of Speak and Tipple’s (2006) homeless continuum with slum and street dwellers at either extreme (see also Aoki, 2013; Reeve, 2011). UDHA did not distinguish between slum and street dwellers, when there were observable differences between these two groups (Aoki, 2013; Olefumi, 1998; Padilla, 2000). Aoki (2013) believed that the street homeless should be considered a separate category because they were people who earned their livelihoods on the streets (see Table 8.1). Squatters, vagrants, mendicants (e.g. beggars), and transients belonged in a separate category.
The MCCT-HSF The MCCT-HSF offers a clearer definition of homeless families as long term street dwellers or the temporarily displaced (DSWD, 2012). It distinguishes between different kinds of street families: families on the street, families of the street, homeless street families, and community-based street families (as shown in Table 8.2). ‘Families on the street’ comprise three quarters of the total number of street families. Though they spend most of their time and earn their livelihood on the street, they return to their home communities on a regular basis. ‘Families of the street’ comprise a quarter of the total number of street families. They have been homeless for a longer period of time and together with their children, earn their livelihood and conduct their daily activities on the street. They usually move
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 115 Table 8.2 Different kinds of homeless families Category
Families on the street
Earn their livelihoods on the street, and include displaced homeless street families and community-based street families Long-term homeless families who form more or less stable street communities
Families of the street
around the city in a multipurpose kariton or a pushcart on which they store their belongings, transport items necessary to earn their livelihood, and use as sleeping quarters. Some of these families group together into a community and choose a regular place to spend the night. In terms of the MCCT-HSF, homeless street families might include ‘displaced homeless’ and ‘community-based’ street families. Displaced homeless street families’ have usually migrated to the city streets from rural and urban areas, following displacement due to natural disasters, such as fires, floods, demolitions, or forceful evacuations and or family crises, including children escaping abuse or violence. Some might have travelled to a metropolitan area in search of a better life and ended up living on the streets, surviving through temporary income sources. These families may be living on sidewalks, pavements, under bridges, or other public spaces where they conduct most of their daily activities, including cooking, eating, sleeping, playing, bathing, and even doing their laundry. They may travel on foot with their belongings. Some families may have a kariton (pushcart) or ‘pedicab’ (motor-less tricycle) to transport their belongings or to use as a mobile mini-store to peddle various items, such as food, cigarettes, and coffee as their main source of livelihood. ‘Communitybased street families’ are residents of urban poor communities or relocation areas. However, due to a lack of livelihood sources in their places of residence, these families turn to the streets to earn a living. They reside on the streets but return to their homes on a regular basis. The MCCT-HSF targets these family groups for livelihood support and eventual relocation (Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 2016a). They form part of a broader category designated as Families in Need of Special Protection (FNSP) that might include itinerant Indigenous people (IPs); families who have been roaming the streets; those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA); families of differently-abled parents or children with special needs; and families of child laborers (DSWD, 2016b).
Face of homelessness in Metro Manila Investigative journalists and social media commentators have often reported inspiring stories on the struggles of the homeless in the Philippines that have captured international attention. In 2015, the picture of Daniel Cabrera, a young boy in Madaue City, went viral on social media. He was seen completing his homework on a makeshift bench using the McDonald’s store signage as a light source (Agence France-Presse and Network Writers (AFP), 2015). His story was that he and his mother had been
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forced to sleep on the streets due to an absence of water and electricity supplies in the nearby reclamation community where he lived. Another Facebook post showed a little girl, Jenny, sitting on a concrete fence just below the Light Rail Transit reading a book she had recovered from a dumpster. An even more celebrated story was that of Rodalie Mosende, a young girl who grew up as a homeless street sweeper in Quiapo, Manila. She featured in photojournalist Rick Ricamora’s (2016) documentary portfolio Blood, Sweat, Hope and Quiapo depicting the lives of street families. With the help of an anonymous benefactor, who had seen her pictures, Rodalie was able to graduate from a private university with a degree in hospitality management (Filipino Times, 2016). While these stories reported on the changed lives of Daniel, Jenny, and Rodalie and possibly challenged public perceptions of homeless street people as illiterate and dysfunctional, they did little to help the large number of homeless street families, who survive from hand to mouth. Some investigative journalists, like foreign correspondent Simon Parry (2015), have provided more realistic accounts of the social injustices endured by most people living on the streets. Parry documented how street children were rounded up during the Pope’s visit to the Philippines in 2014. His story featured a girl handcuffed to the rails inside the City Hall Reception and Action Center. Hundreds of children were seen locked up in these detention centers, where some remained for months instead of being transferred to child-friendly homes. An earlier Australian research study had reported that the street children rescue operations in the City of Manila were indiscriminate, involuntary, harmful, and ineffective, with testimonies from children of how they had been dragged forcibly into ‘rescue’ vans (Nugroho, Parker & Moran, 2008). Similarly, adults and their families have been rounded up during regular city clean-up operations and visits of foreign dignitaries, such as the recent Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC) held in Manila. Realistic accounts from academics, the media, and human rights advocacy groups have highlighted inconsistencies between policy declarations and lawenforcement activities. There are thousands of untold stories, not reached by social media, about the plight of street homeless families, who against all odds, continue to cling to the hope that life can be better. Some of these families are beneficiaries of the MCCT-HSF. Homeless street families earn a living on the street to provide food for their children, to protect their family, and to ensure that they go to school from the street. They comprise nuclear, one-parent, and same-sex parent families (Mancenido, 2014). Informal networks and support groups form among street homeless families, who provide one another with child-minding support while parents work, information on schedules and locations of feeding programs, and tip offs on clearing operations to evade the police. It is through these networks that they meet their life partners and start their own families. Sometimes, the pressures of street living also lead to separation, as in the case of Rolando. Case vignette: Rolando and Marlene Rolando and his daughter Marlene (pseudonyms) are beneficiaries of the MCCTHSF. Rolando and his wife separated due to financial pressures. Since the separation, Rolando has taken care of Marlene while living on the streets in Quezon City. Rolando started living on the streets following the death of his grandmother. He
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 117 started sleeping in food stalls, where adults treated him harshly at night. He taught himself to be tough so that people would fear him. Later, he found his partner, Alice, who gave birth to their daughter, Marlene. To provide for his family, he worked as a parking attendant in one of the commercial and entertainment areas in Quezon City. The meagre and irregular income from his work forced him to resort to stealing. He was frequently caught and detained in the police station, making it more impossible to provide for his family. Alice decided to leave and Marlene was left in Rolando’s care. Rolando strived more to provide for Marlene but later realized the dangers of living on the street for children. At night, they slept on carton boxes spread on the pavement. It was in this situation that the DSWD found them. Rolando’s life turned around as a beneficiary of the MCCTHSF, since he no longer feared for Marlene’s safety. He and Marlene now have a house through the Alternative Family Home component of the MCCT-HSF. Rolando also regularly attended the Family Development Sessions (FDS) which taught effective parenting, laws on the family, gender and development, and the rights of the child. The FDS equipped Rolando with life skills to survive as a solo parent. In addition, Marlene also received services for toddlers. Rolando could have a decent source of income through the Cash for Work program. According to Rolando, people were no longer afraid of him but treated him with dignity and respect. He was 26 years old when they were taken by the DSWD, and he was thankful that the MCCT-HSF had saved him from a life of uncertainty, danger, and crime.
National policies As already discussed, policymakers approach the issue of homelessness either from a housing or welfare perspective. The housing perspective responds to homelessness as a problem of urban development, while the welfare response targets individual families. Existing policy favors the housing perspective, that is, the enactment of low-cost housing and resettlement laws in line with urban development principles, over the remedial MCCT-HSF, a targeted welfare program for poor homeless street families (Berner, 2000). Policies prior to the UDHA, enacted during the Marcos years (1965–1986) and repealed in later administrations criminalized homelessness. The Anti-Squattinglaw (Presidential Decree 722) prohibited the unlawful occupation of public and private land and authorized government agencies to ‘remove all illegal constructions’ in areas alongside esteros (riverbanks) and railroad tracks, where the homeless usually erected makeshift shelters. This law was repealed by the Republic Act No. 8368 of 1997 but some sought to revive it in 2011 through House Bill 2145 (Community Organizers Multiversity, 2011). As well, Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code, defined vagrancy as a criminal offence involving “any person loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose or trampling or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support”. This definition fit any homeless individual. This article 202 was repealed by the Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy (Republic Act No. 10158), signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III (2010–2016).
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Mass housing has been the main policy approach taken up by successive administrations, embedded especially during the Marcos (1965–1986), Estrada (1998– 2001), and Arroyo (2001–2010) presidencies. In 1975, during Marcos’ presidency, the National Housing Authority (NHA) was created to serve the housing needs of the poorest 30% of the population (NHA, 2014). This resettlement focus came a few years after the World Bank’s in-city site development ‘housing by the people’ pilot, and later, First lady Imelda Marcos’ gentrification and beautification of Manila project (Berner, 2000). However, with the flawed assumption that home ownership was the solution to the squatter problem (Monsod, 2011), the discounted property system was affordable only to the middle class and effectively excluded the poor (Berner, 2000). Significantly, it was during the Corazon Aquino (1986– 1992) presidency that the UDHA (Republic of Philippines, 1992) was enacted. It not only protected the urban poor from forced eviction but also provided a more participatory approach to housing (Ballesteros, 2010). More so, it made possible the implementation of the National Shelter Program through the creation of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). The UDHA provided an extended definition of the homeless to include slum dwellers. However, its implementation became complicated with the introduction of the Local Government Code (Chapter 2, Section 17), which devolved certain housing and welfare functions onto local government units. Further, difficulties in identifying beneficiaries, the increasing cost of resettlement, delayed awarding of properties, limited scope of financing, and actual enforcement to eradicate professional squatting syndicates hindered the swift provision of housing for the poor (Ballesteros, 2010). As a remedy, Fidel Ramos (1992–1998) introduced the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) as part of his vision for the Philippines to be a newly industrialized country (NIC). The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) was created to provide representation to marginalized sectors, including the urban poor (NAPC, 1998). In addition, the SRA became the basis for the adoption of the social protection framework and the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program through the DSWD. However, policy for street homeless families remained obscure until the formulation of the MCCT-HSF under the immediate past-administration of Benigno Aquino III (2010–2016). Ironically, Aquino also vetoed the Magna Carta for the Poor, specifically opposing the section on the right to shelter, which should have allowed the homeless to sue the NHA, in the event that it failed to provide basic housing. More so, the administration’s failure to convene the NAPC made any genuine concern for the poor questionable (Shahani, 2016). Homelessness is a policy priority within the present administration under Rodrigo Duterte (2016), who has promised that “No one will sleep hungry at nigh”, following his street feeding program model, which he introduced when he was Mayor of Davao City. Though Congress approved funding for the MCCT-HSF within the DSWD budget, policies on homelessness have yet to eventuate. The situation might yet change with the appointment of Vice President Leni Robredo, who has vowed to solve housing backlogs, as head of the HUDCC. Comparable to the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act of 1977 in the US, which highlighted tensions between housing and welfare interventions for the homeless,
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 119 the question of whether homelessness should be dealt with as a housing or welfare issue, or both, remains. As already outlined, homeless people in the Philippines include slum dwellers and homeless street families. To clarify, those who have shelters but are living in slums are still considered homeless. For the most part, existing policies support the provision of housing services to the homeless but they apply mainly to the relocation of slum dwellers. In the absence of a policy directly relating to the homeless, interventions remain remedial. The promise of the MCCTHSF is that it might possibly lead to targeted legislation in the future.
Government programs and services Formed broadly under the social protection framework, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program seeks to extend further social assistance to marginalized sectors not covered by the regular CCT, to provide support against risks and vulnerabilities, and to break the cycle of poverty by moving poor families into work. Through the targeted MCCT-HSF, the government hopes to reach the poor, especially those living on the streets. The term ‘modified’ refers to the unique strategy applied in targeting the poor, setting conditions, and packaging benefits and interventions (Colico-Aquino & Kim, 2015). The program continues the delivery of its unique regular CCT features, including the Family Development Session (FDS) and other service innovations responding to the non-shelter dimensions of homelessness.
Convergence framework for the homeless The convergence framework refers to the implementation of social protection policy in tandem with social welfare services and benefits and work-related policies. First, internal to the DSWD, convergence means the synergistic impact of its three main poverty reduction strategies: 1 2 3
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programs (4Ps) – Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) encompassing the former SelfEmployment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K). Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Linking Arms Against Poverty) – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDDS) institutionalized as the National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP).
The wider level of convergence, branded as C++, involves different partner agencies and stakeholders. It links the three main poverty reduction strategies with the implementing civil society organizations (CSOs), local government units, stakeholders and oversight agencies at all levels and all program phases. In other words, it is an expanded convergence framework. Program components of the MCCTHSF are implemented and monitored by the relevant national and local government departments and non-governmental organizations, such as the Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Local Government, the
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regional and local government units in program areas, and CSOs. From its inception, program development involved multi-stakeholder consultation and partnership and implemented the 2010 rapid appraisal that identified 657 homeless street families (Colico-Aquino & Kim, 2015). In 2011, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) ‘rescued’ 3,493 street families (MMDA 2011, cited in Aoki, 2013). This was followed by the 2012 Baseline Situational Analysis which initially identified 892 families. As of February 2016, there were 4,043 beneficiaries of the MCCT-HSF (DSWD, 2016a). However, the latest report (DSWD-NPMO, September 2016, personal communication October 14, 2016) showed that only 3,845 remain active beneficiaries out of the 5,577 families reached by the program (see Table 8.3). The Table 8.3 Summary status of MCCT-HSF beneficiaries (as of September 5, 2016, DSWD MCCT Database*) Status
No. of families (N=5577)
Inactive (No Longer Interested) Inactive (Non MCCT Area) Missing No Qualified Bene Pending
696 123 4
12.48 2.20 00.07
Delisted (Double Entry) Delisted (In regular PPPP) Delisted (Fraud) Delisted (Not Eligible)
Particulars Only active beneficiaries are considered as registered in the program and entitled to receive Cash Grants and Support Services and Interventions (SSI) Those households with delisted status are ‘tagged’ as delisted but remain on the MCCT Database System. Delisted (in regular PPPP) means upon validation they were identified as Regular CCT beneficiaries Graduated in the program and for mainstreaming in the regular CCT Inactive beneficiaries are ‘tagged’ as inactive for many reasons, due to the different dynamic of homeless street families. For example, if the caseworker conducts an area visit and the families are nowhere to be found for a certain period, they would be tagged as inactive; however, when the beneficiaries returned to the area, the worker would update the status of the beneficiaries in the MCCT database
*Source: DSWD Pantawid MCCT NPMO Database; Unpublished data, personal communication, October 14, 2016
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 121 difference is due to the families who have been delisted (13.14%, n=733), missing or untraceable (12.48%, n=696), transferred to non-program areas (1.93%, n=108), and who are not qualified beneficiaries (2.2%, n=123) and are no longer interested (1.0%, n=54). Also, there were twenty-four families who graduated and mainstreamed to the regular CCT. In addition, there were 3,410 families who were beneficiaries of Alternative Family Home (house rental subsidy), and 745 families provided with cash for work, mostly working as street assistants (DSWD NCR Field Office Unpublished 2nd Quarter Report, personal communication, October 14, 2016).
Developing the HSF database In 2009, the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) was launched to identify poor families with children aged 14 years and younger using a proxy means model (PMT). Unfortunately, the resulting database excluded families without permanent addresses, prompting the need to expand the regular CCT search. The identification and selection of MCCT-HSF beneficiaries required a different approach. With the use of a pre-screening tool, the DSWD, through its center and community-based facilities, partnered with CSOs and local government units to map the location of the street homeless using their existing databases (see DSWD, 2012). Accordingly, the new search targeted: (1) families who had been living for at least three months on streets, sidewalks, pavements, open spaces, and pushcarts (kariton); and (2) their blood relatives with children from birth to 14 years old, including parents, siblings, and grandparents. This selection process affirmed the distinction between slum dwellers (targeted as regular CCT beneficiaries) and street homeless (targeted as MCCT-HSF beneficiaries), recorded on mutually exclusive program databases. The initial list was validated at the regional and national levels by running it against the NHTS-PR regular CCT database and other databases, such as the Community-based Monitoring System (CBSM). Duplicate listings were cleared in shortlisting the targeted homeless street families. Families included in the final list were gathered through a community assembly in their respective localities for orientation and intake interviews. Families enrolled in the program took an oath of commitment to meet the conditions and were later provided with identification cards, with unique family and individual numbers corresponding to the information found in the new MCCT-HSF database. The beneficiaries of the MCCT were referred to as ‘partner families’.
MCCT case-management system The main system of service delivery and monitoring followed a case-management strategy which involved a multidisciplinary team providing holistic biopsychosocial interventions through service innovations, such as the Family Development Sessions (FDS), health and education services, and referral system. The MCCT case-management system uses a Social Welfare Indicators (SWI) tool which measures well-being by rating the economic sufficiency and social adequacy of the beneficiaries based on the earlier minimum basic needs (MBN) indicators. The
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caseworker or municipal/city link prepares a social case study report (SCSR) based on their interpretation of the SWI scores. The SWI scoring system uses a matrix checklist that seeks to identify weak areas for improvement in social functioning of family members. It assumes that homeless families are dysfunctional and emphasizes deficiencies rather than strengths. Further, the program document referred to the goal-setting stage as ‘treatment planning’, thus medicalizing ‘the homeless condition’. The SWI thus fails to acknowledge the families’ resilience; they had survived on the streets despite the absence of a permanent shelter. On a broader scale, the well-being of the beneficiaries was reduced to scores in a system-generated report set up to verify compliance to the program’s conditions, which might not necessarily mean an increase in the beneficiaries’ well-being. More so, a program framework focused on a deficit model could perpetuate stigma attached to homelessness as a condition in need of a cure. As well, compliance involves rewards of cash, shelter assistance, and benefits from the service innovations. MCCT-HSF program conditionality Access to the program package including the cash transfer requires the families to meet specific obligations regarding family, education, and health. Unique to the Philippine CCT model is the conduct of Family Development Sessions aimed to enhance marital and parenting skills. Parents (sole parents or the grantee and partner) are required to attend weekly counselling sessions for the first two months, fortnightly for the next two months, and once a month in the succeeding months. These sessions become the venue to monitor in-depth the condition of the family members. The conditions pertaining to education ensure that the children of the homeless are enrolled in and attend school regularly. However, the cash benefit is limited to only three children and it is essentially an early intervention program. Children from ages three to five years are required to be enrolled in early education, either in day care or pre-school. Children from ages 6 to 14 years are required to attend either elementary or high school. The children are expected to attend at least 85% of the total school days in a year. The conditions for the health grant apply to pregnant women and the children in the family. Pregnant women are required to undergo prenatal and post-natal check-ups, including attendance at Breastfeeding Counselling and Family Planning Sessions. The program also ensures that the expectant mother will be attended to only by skilled health professionals during delivery. Children from birth to five years must be brought in for regular health check-ups and must receive the required vaccinations. Children from ages 6 to 14 years are given deworming medication twice a year. These are the rigid conditions under which families can receive financial assistance. MCCT-HSF program package The direct grant involves cash transfers released to the CSOs. In the first month, the grant is not subject to conditions and serves as an initial working fund. The service package is summarized in Table 8.4. The program package includes
Table 8.4 Package of services for homeless street families Type of assistance
300 PHP (6 USD) per child monthly for a maximum of three children 500 PHP (10 USD) per family monthly
Sustainable Livelihood (with skills training)
Limited Financial Assistance: • Transportation allowance • Transition allowance • Medical assistance House Rental Subsidy
Subsidy for Family Homes Starter Kits – essential materials for home living
Livelihood –10,000 PHP (205 uSD) per family Skills Training –10,000 PHP (205 USD) per family Maximum of 5,000 PHP (102 USD) per family based on the assessment of the city/municipal links 3,000 PHP (61 USD) –4,500 PHP (93 USD) monthly for a maximum of twelve months 20,000 PHP (412 USD) monthly for a maximum of twelve months 2,000 PHP (41 USD) per family
Children should attend school or any mode of learning and should not stay or work in the streets (compliance starting on the third month) Parents/Guardians to bring children to health center for immunization, weight and height monitoring, and regular checkups; pregnant women must go for pre and post-natal check-ups (compliance starting on the third month) Participation of parents/guardians in Family Life Education and Counselling (Family Camp) and regular Family Development Sessions (immediate) Required to stay in alternative residences (monitored on the fifth month)
After being identified as beneficiaries, relocated and provided alternative homes, household beneficiaries MUST stay in the alternative residences
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Table 8.4 (Continued) Type of assistance
Support Services for Older Street Children (15 years and above and below 18 years): • Regular educational assistance • Modified In-School Out-School Approach (MIMOSA) alternately conducted in alternative venues • Open High-School Programs • Referral to Alternative Learning (out-of-school informal form of learning) System or Acceleration Program • Skills Training and other forms of assistance Cash for Work Assistance
Varies based on assessment of the city/ municipal links (frontline case workers who directly evaluate the needs of beneficiaries, monitors compliance to the program conditions and recommends approval of additional support)
85% attendance of students • Beneficiaries of the extended age MCCT coverage include families who exited the regular CCT program because they do not have 0–14-yearold children • Health grant is not provided for children between 15 and 17 years of age
Daily wage paid by employer or the community
Source: Adapted from DSWD (2012)
support services, that is, interventions in the form of training, livelihood, and enrichment activities, such the Family Camp (aimed at rebuilding family relationships and providing the families experiencing crisis some break time to relax, reflect, and plan). As well, Balik-probinsya (return to hometown) provide relocation cost support for families who choose to return to their original residence in the provinces; they are given up to 10,000 PHP (205 USD) to support relocation. In 2015, the Operation Balik Bahay Sagip Buhay (OBBSB) (return to home to rescue life) was launched as a separate project targeting 3,500 families in Quezon City and Metro Manila, putting the families in holding areas, and providing some with Kabuhayan Folding Carts (KFC) and Cash for Work opportunities (Mangunay, 2015).
Non-governmental responses Non-governmental responses to homeless people mostly cater to the expanded definition of homelessness/slum dwellers. The history of community organizing shows that most organizing efforts in the urban area are related to the rights of the homeless who lack tenure yet occupy land to build shelters. Organizations like the Community Organizing for People’s Empowerment (COPE), Philippine Ecumenical Council for Community Organizing (PECCO), Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa [Union for the Advancement of Socialist Thought and
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 125 Action] (BISIG), Community Organizers Multiversity, and Urban Poor Associates (UPA) advocated for decent off-site and in-city relocation of the urban poor. From these initiatives, urban poor people’s organizations, such Zone One Tondo (ZOTO), formed, as well as the more militant urban poor alliance Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY). Other CSOs, such as the Gawad Kalinga (GK), provide volunteer support services in building houses for the homeless. This chapter does not have the space to discuss the political differences among these groups, but the fragmented organizing efforts have also divided the urban poor sector. The issue of land tenure will always be a political issue. However, access to services for the homeless has been highly politicized as well. Faith-based organizations have sought to de-politicize homelessness and provide services for street homeless, such as feeding programs (Visetpricha, 2015). Non-governmental agencies working with street children and their families are prominent in rescuing the homeless people from the streets.
KSEM sanctuary model for homeless street children Direct intervention to the homeless is exhibited by many child-focused agencies through rescue programs for street children. One exemplary agency with this commitment offers a model that may be adopted to street adults and families as well. The Kanlungan sa Er-Ma Ministries Inc. or KSEM (kanlungan literally translates as sanctuary and Er-Ma as short cut for Ermita, Manila, an area in the city with high incidence of street homeless). Conceptualized as a social response from an alliance of Christian churches within the Ermita area in 1986, KSEM initially was challenged with being without an office due to eviction and financial circumstances. As such, the initial model of intervention adopted by Sol Balbero (present Executive Director) and three volunteers was to work on the street where the children were located. By mapping the location of children, mostly those affected by substance abuse and commercial sexual exploitation, the volunteers implemented a street education program which provided the children with snacks, value formation sessions using creative formats, such as story-telling, casual conversation, plays, recreation activities, counselling, spiritual development, and referral to other agencies. The street educators were highly effective in catering to the needs of the homeless children on site, making the Street Education Program the heart of the KSEM intervention for homeless children and their families. As support came from both the government and external resources, KSEM was able to set up structures of support for homeless children. Most significant is the Drop-in Center where any homeless child is free to enter and avail of services, such as food, recreational activities, taking a bath, counselling, story time, and even medical check-ups. The center employs an in-house nurse, teacher, cook, and street educator, to respond to the immediate needs of the children. A separate Residential Care and Training Centre serves as a temporary shelter and reception for newly found children. The narratives of the children in their sharing sessions signals the need for a permanent shelter for some of the children who want to move out of from the red-light district and have a new home. As such, KSEM, through
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donations from a Dorcas society in England, acquired land outside of the city which serves as a training center and residence. The same land covers a farm that provides produce served in the KSEM coffee shop in Manila, a livelihood venture that employs the older residents of the shelter. With all these in place, KSEM now offers the following services: 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Street education program. Community-based programs in ten communities, providing family enrichment and seminars or training on parent effectiveness, awareness-raising on different issues to prevent child abuse, drugs and substance abuse, corporal punishment, child trafficking, and drugs and substance abuse prevention. Short-term residential care and training program. Long-term residential care and training program (girls and boys home). Independent Living Program for Young Adults. Social Entrepreneurship Program (the Kanlungan’s coffee shop). Educational assistance for elementary, high school, and college students. Health and nutrition programs. Advocacy on child protection and against child abuse and exploitation. (S. Barbero, personal communication, September 16, 2016)
To provide a perspective on the benefits of this program, Flor’s letter below details her story of survival with help from KSEM. Kanlungan Fruit Stories: Flor’s letter My name is Flordeliza Ortiz. Before I came to know Kanlungan, I was a little girl back then who begged for alms together with my grandmother. We begged for alms to buy food and for my school allowance. I have two siblings; Mary Anne and Jay-R. They helped our father to scavenge. In the evening, we all slept together in the pavement using cardboard to protect our fragile body from the coldness of the night. Begging for alms and scavenging to feed our hungry stomach, this is the kind of life that I had and grew up in. When I become a teenager, I started to try small jobs like being a jeepney barker; I sold candles during big catholic gatherings in places like Quirino Grandstand. All my little income, I gave to my mother to buy our food and whenever there was a small amount left, I kept for my school allowance. I even tried getting left over foods from the bin. We just washed and cooked it again so we could have something to eat. I started to drive a pedicab when I was in grade-6. I drove the pedicab in the evening and then I went to school in the morning. I finished elementary with the help of my pedicab. Before I got acquainted with Kanlungan, my sister Mary Anne got to know and befriended a nun named Sister Mary. She saw my hard work. Back then, I was toothless, so Sister Mary offered to get my dentures fixed. After the dental procedure, I was advised not to do intense work. Sister Mary then referred me to Kanlungan for temporary shelter in order for me to get enough rest and to have adults to supervise me.
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 127 While in Kanlungan, I experienced being looked after and I was taught by the word of God. I stayed a little longer in Kanlungan. To help my family, which by that time was still my priority, I started doing recycled paper, cross-stitch and bracelet in Kanlungan. All the little ‘salary’ I received from this income-generating project of Kanlungan I gave to my family for their food. After I completed all my follow-up check-ups, I returned to my family and started driving my pedicab again. This time, aiming to finish my secondary education. After finishing high school, I thought I could never enter College. Nevertheless, I was wrong. Kanlungan stood by me and sent me to College and by the grace of God; I completed a 2-year course on Information Technology. Right now, my family does not live on the streets anymore. I got a room for them where they have a roof over their head to cover them and make them feel safe at night. I sent one niece and one nephew to school and I have my own motorcycle to drive them to school. My family has enough food to eat every day. I attend to my youngest brother who is an epileptic. I grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ and I have kept my relationship with my Kanlungan Family and with Sister Mary. I am forever grateful to Kanlungan for the opportunity and the kindness they have given me. I thank God for them and for all the people behind my success. To all the Kanlungan children, please do not waste every opportunity that Kanlungan is giving you. Value them, treasure them. Study hard and work hard to achieve your dreams because there is a good future that awaits you. (S. Barbero, personal communication, September 16, 2016)
Flor’s story represents how an agency like KSEM can support independent living skills and offer support without developing dependence. By being offered temporary shelter and medical assistance, Flor was able to survive in the streets while also making a living. More so, KSEM’s support for her college education was a sustainable approach, in helping street individuals. As with the case of Rodalie (the viral case featured in Facebook), a benefactor was instrumental in providing her an opportunity for a college education and thus means to work her way out of homelessness. Investment in education proved to be a more sustainable way for acquiring skills and psychological development than an entrepreneurial crash course. As such, Flor’s access to education and employment enabled her family to exit homelessness, to go from sleeping on cartons to being sheltered in a decent rented apartment. The KSEM experience serves as a creative model to reach out to street homeless individuals and families, working at their own pace and supporting their will to leave the streets permanently. The housing assistance provides low-cost housing, while welfare support prepares and equips the homeless to live independently.
Discussion The Philippines has adopted a universal social protection framework to provide social security and social insurance to its citizens. However, the cash transfer scheme continues to be selective in approach, distinguishing between the deserving and non-deserving poor (see Fiszbein & Schady, 2009). This is reminiscent of the Poor Laws’ utilitarian approach, where workhouses or holding areas and
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self-help were heavily promoted and separated the poor from mainstream production (Younghusband, 1981). There have been reports of successful recipients of livelihood support, such as provision of portable vending carts and enrolment in the cash-for-work program. However, access to the labor market is still limited and opportunities are given mostly to the few homeless who demonstrate their entrepreneurialism. As well, the support given by the DSWD is only for ninety days, which the beneficiaries found too short for them to be fully self-sustaining and to continue renting the house provided to them. Furthermore, the MCCT-HSF only caters to families with children. This excludes individuals and couples who do not have children (Visetpricha, 2015). Another limitation is the time gap between the survey assessment (2010) and program implementation (2013) (Visetpricha, 2015). As such, some of those interviewed during the survey could not be found when program implementation started (Visetpricha, 2015). Evaluative studies have not been conducted to determine whether families were able to sustain the rent for the house after the shelter assistance period. Further, it is not yet certain whether families tend to become regular CCT beneficiaries or whether they advance to ‘working poor’ status. However, the case of Flor does exemplify how the homeless are able to permanently exit from the streets, by reaching out to where they are, and through a more viable and sustainable support and investment in education. Despite the aim for convergence, different agencies’ treatment of the homeless varies. While the UDHA supposedly protects the urban poor from forced eviction, sidewalk vending is strictly prohibited as part of gentrification and beautification of the city. Regular city clean-up operations are conducted and vendors are dealt with inhumanely and their goods are confiscated. The homeless are ‘round up’ in the guise of being ‘rescued’. Policymakers and agency administrators need to understand that homelessness is caused by structural barriers and by events associated with urban and economic development and the provision of housing and sustainable livelihoods for the poor. If government agencies are left to their own interpretations of homelessness and associated laws, which are conflicting to begin with, without seeing the relationship between structural and individual factors, the homeless will always be blamed for their condition. Program rhetoric that considers case management as ‘treatment’ connotes that the homeless need to be cured and changed, that they need to be removed from the streets and brought to a place for rehabilitation. Law-enforcement officers follow suit and see them as a menace, stripping them of their rights to the creative city. Social protection then becomes a slave to gentrification. The creativity of the homeless is expressed through their resilience on the street, rather than through predetermined program outcomes. Despite its limitations, however, the MCCT-HSF shows potential in looking at homelessness as a complex and multidimensional reality. Lessons learned in program implementation should aid policy and program reformulation.
Conclusion This chapter discussed the complex, multidimensional reality of homelessness in Metro Manila in the Philippines, and the absence of a dedicated policy on homelessness, which is dealt with in terms of existing housing and welfare policy. It
Sustainable livelihoods strategy 129 focuses on the most recent welfare response, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) through the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It argues that transitional social protection measures and accompanying services that aim to move people off the streets constitute a failure to find workable solutions for people earning ‘sustainable livelihoods’ on the streets of Metro Manila.
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Sustainable livelihoods strategy 131 Padilla, A. J. (2000). The housing crisis. In Facts and Findings, 53. Manila: IBON Foundation, Inc., pp. 1−20. Parry, S. (2015, January 15). Children caged to keep the streets clean for the Pope: Police round up orphans and chain them in filth during pontiff’s visit to The Philippines. Daily Mail Australia (Online). Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2906730/EXCLUSIVE-Children-CAGEDGod-Police-seize-orphans-chain-filth-clear-streets-Pope-s-visit-The Philippines.html Parsell, C. & Parsell, M. (2012). Homelessness as a choice. Housing, Theory & Society, 29 (4) 420−434. Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA). (2013). Results of the 2011 annual poverty indicators survey. [June 7, 2013]. Retrieved October 8, 2016, from https://psa.gov.ph/content/ results-2011-annual-poverty-indicators-survey-apis Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA). (2016). Poverty incidence among Filipinos registered at 26.3% as of first semester of 2015 PSA. [March 18, 2016]. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://psa.gov.ph/content/poverty-incidence-among-filipinos-registered263-first-semester-2015-psa Porio, E. (2002). Urban poor communities in state-civil society dynamics: Constraints and possibilities for housing and security of tenure in Metro Manila. Asian Journal of Social Science, 30 (1) 73−96. Purcell, M. (2002). Excavating Lefebvre: The right to the city and its urban politics of the inhabitant. Geo Journal, 58, 99–108. Reeve, K. (2011). Squatting: a homelessness issue: An evidence review. Sheffield, UK: Crisis Republic of the Philippines. (1992). Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) (Republic Act 7279). Retrieved October 12, 2016, from www.nha.gov.ph/about_us/2015-pdf/ RA7279.pdf Republic of the Philippines. (1997). An Act Repealing Presidential Decree No. 772, entitled Penalizing Squatting and Other Similar Acts (Republic Act No. 8368). Retrieved September 13, 2016, from www.chanrobles.com/republicacts/republicactno8368.html#. V9AaB_l97IU Republic of the Philippines. (2012). An Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy Amending for this purpose Article 202 of Act No. 3815, as Amended otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code (Republic Act No. 10158). Place: Publisher. Ricamora, R. (2016). Blood, sweat, hope and Quiapo. Metro Manila, Philippines: Firetree Press. Also retrieved October 20, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/164698751 Shahani, L.R. (2016, May) Fighting poverty under Aquino: A balanced assessment. The Philippine Star Online. Retrieved September 7, 2016, from www.philstar.com/ opinion/2016/05/23/1586157/fighting-poverty-under-aquino-balanced-assessment. Somerville, P. (2011a). Critical realism. In S. Smith (Ed.) (2011) International encyclopedia of housing and home. London: Elsevier, pp. 291–295. Somerville, P. (2011b). Theorising homelessness. Housing Studies Association Annual Conference, University of York, Heslington, UK, 13th–15th May. Speak, S. & Tipple, G. (2006). Perceptions, persecution, and pity: The limitations of interventions for homelessness in developing countries. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(1), 172−188. Tomada, N.M. (2008, November 16). Creative Cebu. Philippine Star Global. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from www.philstar.com/starweek-magazine/415359/creative-cebu United Nations Development Programme. (2016). Human Development Report 2016: Human development for everyone. New York: UNDP. Retrieved March 28, 2017 from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf
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UNESCO. (2004). Creative cities: Promoting social and economic development through cultural industries. Geneva: UNESCO. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from portal.unesco. org/11055395211Creative_Cities/Creative%2BCities%2BFeature.doc United Nations (UN). (2008). Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses (revision 2). Geneva: Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/publication/seriesm/ seriesm_67rev2e.pdf United Nations (UN). (2014). Right to Adequate Housing. Fact Sheet 21 (rev 1). Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN Habitat) (November 2009). Retrieved October 12, 2016, from www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/ FS21_rev_1_Housing_en.pdf United Nations (UN). (2016). Philippines: Slum population as percentage urban. UN Data. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=MDG&f=seriesRow ID%3A710. Visetpricha, B. (2015). Structural violence and homelessness: Searching for happiness on the streets of Manila, the Philippines. PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest LLC. Worldastlas.com. (2016). Highest country populations worldwide. Retrieved September 13, 2016, from www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-populated-countries-in-the-world.html World Bank. (2009a). Conditional cash transfers: Reducing present and future poverty. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCCT/ Resources/5757608-1234228266004/PRR-CCT_web_noembargo.pdf World Bank. (2009b). Project appraisal document report No: 47175-PH. Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/609901468296446607/ text/471750PAD0P082101Official0Use0Only1.txt Younghusband, E. (1981). The newest profession: A short history of social work. Surrey: Community Care/IPC Business Press.
Homelessness in Australia Chris Horsell and Carole Zufferey
Introduction This chapter provides an account of homelessness in Australia, with a particular focus on the definitions and discourses that inform practice, policy, and research. To foreground one face of homelessness in Australia, we begin with Peter’s story that highlights the complexities of issues contributing to homelessness and failed service responses. Then, we provide a critical analysis of academic and policy definitions of homelessness through examining definitional debates and causation and enumeration discourses. This chapter falls within a tradition of critical social policy analysis that argues that social problems such as homelessness are materially experienced but discursively constructed. As a way forward, we explore policy and research co-design possibilities, with the aim to incorporate the diverse voices of people who experience homelessness in policy making processes. To begin this chapter, we recount the story of a young man named Peter whom we both worked with as social workers in the homeless sector. This is one man’s story that provides a masculinized face of homelessness in Australia. Homelessness is experienced differently by women because the main cause of women’s homelessness is domestic and family violence. The case study does however foreground exclusionary social practices towards marginalized groups with multiple needs and how services reinforce these practices. We argue that whilst homelessness is discursively constructed (Bacchi, 2009), it is also materially experienced through intersecting disadvantages and unequal power relations. These power relations are evident in the case study of Peter. Peter was a 25-year-old male of Caucasian background who had been brought up in numerous foster care families as a young child, after being removed from his biological parents. He mostly slept rough and occasionally accessed an emergency accommodation service for men. He had slept out and stayed in unstable accommodation for numerous years. He said that virtually ‘all of his life’ he had been homeless. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which was at times treated with anti-psychotic medication. He was also diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder and depression. Peter said that he used benzodiazepines to “take away the pain”. He had poor physical health and
Chris Horsell and Carole Zufferey suffered sleep deprivation. He had left interstate for ill-defined reasons but said that his previous place of abode “freaked him out.” Peter had also accessed the services of a detoxification unit for heroin abuse and was on a methadone program for a short period. When Peter presented to the emergency accommodation service, he was experiencing delusional thoughts, anxiety, and hallucinations and was disorientated in time. He had no history of aggression. He told staff that he felt he needed help from a mental health team. The mental health emergency team was called and they did arrive to assess him after a number of hours. However, Peter admitted that he had been drinking beer and so, the workers informed him that it would not be possible to conduct a full mental health assessment until he was free of drugs and alcohol. The following evening Peter expressed similar concerns regarding the symptomatology of the previous night. He was taken to hospital with a support letter, requesting psychiatric assessment and if appropriate, a medication review. He was discharged from the hospital without being admitted and deemed to be suitable for return to the homelessness emergency accommodation. The hospital did not think mental health issues were a priority and emphasized concerns around substance misuse. Peter began sleeping on the streets again and had some contact with an inner-city outreach team. A few weeks later, he was found dead on the streets from heart failure, 24 hours after he had re-presented at a hospital and had been turned away.
Behind Peter’s story, there are stories of how nations, countries, professionals, and policies of welfare states construct and address questions of homelessness and marginalization, informed as these are by a plethora of discourses about our obligation or otherwise to fellow citizens. People such as Peter have the right to be recognized “as citizens of dignity and worth equal to that of other citizens” (Coleman, 2012, p. 278), which includes having access to responsive health, mental health, and drug and alcohol services.
Background Homelessness in Australia can be examined by highlighting the social inequalities evident in such case studies and homelessness statistics. Every night, there is 1 in 200 people in Australia who are homeless (105,000 people or 0.5% of the population); 56% are male and 44% are female; 25% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and 30% are born overseas (Homelessness Australia, 2015). However, these statistics reflect how homelessness is defined by the Australian state, which relates to sleeping out, living in overcrowded, impoverished dwellings, boarding houses, supported accommodation and staying temporarily with friends and family (ABS, 2012). In Australia, nearly 40% of people defined as homeless live in overcrowded dwellings and only 6% live in improvised dwellings, tents or are sleeping out (ABS, 2012). In Australia, while the numbers and visibility of homeless people is not as stark as other countries in the Asia Pacific region, there is growing inequalities (Greig et al., 2003) and increasing disparity between the rich and poor.
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Homelessness has been a feature of the social landscape for centuries but concerns about homelessness have “recently emerged as a major social issue in many countries” (Toro, 2007, p. 461). Yet, differences in homelessness definitions and contexts make comparisons across countries problematic. The diversity of circumstances that are defined as homelessness varies considerably (Tipple & Speak, 2005), as does the manner in which homeless populations are counted. In Australia, homelessness has existed since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and the social marginalization of transported convicts (Coleman & Fopp, 2014). As well, the original declaration of the continent as Terra Nullius and the consequent dispossession of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their lands are foundational to their ongoing over representation in official homelessness statistics (Coleman & Fopp, 2014). Contemporary definitions of homelessness provide the framework for public policy responses, which shapes the basis for government intervention (Chamberlain & Johnson, 2001; Minnery & Greenhalgh, 2007). In the next section, we further explore current definitions and discourses of homelessness in Australia.
Definitions of homelessness Many authors identify the problems and potentials of various kinds of definitions of homelessness that have been increasingly accepted since the late 1990s (Anderson, 2007; Minnery & Greenhalgh, 2007; Toro, 2007). Contemporary policy approaches in western countries continue to identify access to particular types of accommodation (such as inadequate dwellings) as constituting the category of being housed or homeless, whilst also detailing characteristics of ‘the homeless category’ as a critical policy and programmatic challenge. The policy definition most extensively utilized in Australia is the one used in the Census, which is: When a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement: is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations. (ABS, 2012) This definition resonates with the definition of homelessness used in the Supported Accommodation Assistance Act in 1994 about “inadequate access to safe and secure housing”. In Australia, current operational definitions of homelessness are based on beliefs about mainstream housing options (Minnery & Greenhalgh, 2007; Toro, 2007). Australian social policy scholars Chamberlain and Johnson (2001, p. 7) and Chamberlain and Mackenzie (1992, 2008) mounted a case for establishing an objective and ‘cultural’ definition of homelessness. They argued for a definition of homelessness based on an understanding of shared community standards of minimum housing requirements. They outline that the dominant housing practices
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of a society can delineate such standards and establish a ‘bench mark’ for measuring homelessness. Homelessness can then be defined as any condition in which a person would fall below that standard (Chamberlain & Johnson, 2001, p. 7). In Australia, the minimum community standard for housing refers to independent accommodation that supplies person/s with a room to sleep in, a room to live in, and kitchen and bathroom facilities (Chamberlain & Mackenzie, 1992), with some degree of security of tenure. It must be acknowledged that these understandings of homelessness are highly westernized and do not necessarily apply in other countries. As outlined in Table 9.1 below, three categories of homelessness are developed by Chamberlain and Mackenzie (1992, 2008, p. 39). Definitional debates These definitions of homelessness are contested. The debates about definitions of homelessness has centered on two main concerns: the notion of home (Watson & Austerberry, 1986; Fopp, 1996; Memmott, Long & Chambers, 2003; Zufferey & Chung, 2015), and the use of subjective/objective criteria in defining homelessness (Chamberlain & Mackenzie, 1992; Burke, 1997; Bessant et al., 2006; Watson, 2000; Chamberlain & Johnson, 2001; Walsh, 2011). Chamberlain and Johnson (2001) are critical of the use of subjectivist definitions of homelessness because they fail to distinguish between those who are at risk of homelessness and those who are homeless. They argued that such usage inflates the numbers of ‘actual homeless people’ – that is, those who fall below a minimum community standard of accommodation in Australia. Building on this, Chamberlain and Johnson (2001, p. 47) make explicit the claim for quantifying the homeless by measurement, by arguing that “homelessness should be measured objectively by quantifying the number of households whose accommodation does not reach the minimum housing standard”. However, several other authors have raised questions about how these policy definitions and responses ignore and fail to incorporate the subjectivities of people Table 9.1 Definitions of homelessness Level of homelessness
Description of accommodation
Primary Improvised homes, tents and ‘rough sleepers’. Secondary People who move from one form of temporary accommodation to another.
Living on streets, sleeping in parks, ‘squatting’, living in cars, etc., for temporary shelter.
Tertiary People in accommodation less than minimum community standard.
Emergency/ transitional accommodation; hostels for homeless people, night shelters, refuges and short term (twelve weeks or less) boarding house accommodation. Also, staying temporarily with other households, such as family and friends. For example, people renting caravans, and with the caravan as their usual address. As well, overcrowded housing.
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who experience homelessness (Owen & Resson, 2003; Robinson, 2003; Zufferey & Kerr, 2004; Parsell, 2010, 2011; Zufferey & Chung, 2015). Standards of housing are socially constructed and based on normative assumptions that are not neutral, but are embedded in unequal racialized and gendered relations (Memmott, Long & Chambers, 2003; Watson, 2000). Furthermore, in objective definitions of homelessness, issues of deep human emotions (such as dissatisfaction and fear) are reduced to technical matters, such as housing shortage or access to citizen rights, and the emotive aspects of homelessness are thus neglected (Wardhaugh, 1999; May, 2000a, 2000b; Robinson, 2002). These authors argue that the ‘cultural’ definition of homelessness has been subsumed within dominant, western, white, male understandings of what constitutes home, which poses significant concerns about gendered, ethnicized and demographic silences. As Somerville (1992, 2013) argues, ideas of home and homelessness are ideological constructions, incorporating material, experiential, cognitive, and intellectual dimensions. The meaning of ‘homelessness’ cannot be determined outside of these ideological cultural constructions and of the processes that give rise to such distinctions. Within the Australian context, such ideological constructions in both academic and programmatic discussions about homelessness have tended to marginalize the voices of women, especially women experiencing domestic violence in the family home, and the perspectives of Indigenous peoples (Zufferey & Chung, 2015; Watson & Austerberry, 1986; Tomas & Dittmar, 1995; Wardhaugh, 1999; Watson, 2000; Memmott, Long & Chambers, 2003; Tipple & Speak, 2005; Radley, Hodgetts & Cullen, 2006; Eyrich-Garg, O’Leary & Cottler, 2008). The imperative to address the needs of marginalized groups at both an international and national level pose significant challenges to the policy community, particularly where barriers to accessing services are embedded in institutional and discursive practices. There are difficulties theorizing homelessness and what can be defined according to ‘objective criteria’ or ‘subjective experience’. Therefore, “it is easier to determine who fits into government categories of need”, rather than “exploring the fluid terrain of meaning and discursive practices” (Watson 2000, p. 159). However, as Watson (2000) argues such need categories are also not neutral, they are determined in the context of cultural and historical configurations of power, which privilege the voice of some and marginalize others. For example, complex, subjective definitions of homelessness do not sit well within policy frameworks, in the context of a housing market defined by a shortage of housing (Watson, 2000). That is, the possibility of locating public, affordable housing based on subjective understandings of homelessness becomes increasingly problematic, which has been outlined with respect to gender (Watson & Austerberry, 1986; Wardhaugh, 1999; Watson, 2000), age (Robinson, 2002), and cultural identity (Coleman, 2001; Memmott, Long & Chambers, 2003). For the most part, definitions of homelessness that concentrate on subjective dimensions have tended to focus on how homeless people articulate their sense of home as residence, in a variety of accommodation circumstances. Research has indicated that the subjective experiences and understandings of people labelled homeless do need to play a significant role in
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informing social policy and service provision because understandings of what is homelessness are diverse (Owen & Resson, 2003; Robinson, 2002, 2003; Zufferey & Kerr, 2004; Parsell, 2010, 2011).
Policy responses Nonetheless, the definition of what constitutes homelessness and who ‘counts’ as homeless has been and remains pivotal to policy formulations and programs developed to address the problem of homelessness (Chamberlain & Johnson, 2001; Edgar & Meert, 2005; Bullen, 2015). The major national government policy response to homelessness in Australia was the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program [SAAP] (1985–2008), now called the National Affordable Housing Agreement [NAHA] (2009-current), and the National Partnership on Homelessness [NPAH]. The Commonwealth and States governments entered the NPAH in 2009, which outlines funding arrangements for projects to address homelessness. The NPAH includes targets to reduce homelessness in specific groups, such as rough sleepers, women and children, and people exiting mental health and prison facilities, and it makes explicit commitments to responding to Indigenous homelessness. However, the requirement to ascertain progress and meet targets in government policies reflects a managerialist model of measurement (Carter, Klein & Day, 1992; Pollitt, 1996; Jacobs & Manzi, 2000). Policies provide a rationale for strategic action that prioritizes bureaucratic efficiencies and action over addressing broader structural issues. As discussed next, informing the shape, language, and structure of SAAP, NAHA, and the NPAH are several discourses about homelessness, including enumeration and causation discourses. Enumeration discourses Given the political imperative to increase the monitoring of homelessness since the early 1990s, the centrality of enumeration in addressing homelessness has been highlighted in several contexts. Chamberlain and Mackenzie (2003) note the importance of collecting numbers and statistical information about the extent of homelessness for policymakers and planners. A sophisticated analysis of both the numeric and geographic distribution of homelessness across Australia have been promoted in recent years, with improved capacity to collect data on variously defined homeless populations. The numericizing of homelessness is evident in two main published sources used to count homelessness in Australia. These are currently the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Census of Housing and Population, and since July 2011, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) Specialist Homeless Services data collection, which replaced the SAAP National Data Collection Agency. Although it has been noted that official data about homelessness does tend to underestimate and undercount the numbers of homeless people in Australia (Thompson, 2007), counting the homeless has been indispensable to the formulation and justification of major attempts to address homelessness. The success or
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otherwise of these counting programs to address homelessness shapes funding decisions, on the basis of numerical formulae applied to statistics that claim to represent the state of affairs concerning the distribution of homelessness across the country (Chamberlain & Mackenzie, 2003).While providing evidence about the numbers of homeless people appears to be increasingly important to the politics of resourcing and evaluating programs, it can also be argued that they establish the rationale for a particular funding decision, and hence conflate the boundaries between the political and the technical. This counting process involves standardization of, for example, a national minimum data set and, techniques for ensuring the fidelity and the allegiance of those who are funded by the state at a distance, with numbers being critical in these standardizing and surveillance practices of the state (Horsell, 2006). Causation discourses: individual/structural debates Another major discourse about homelessness relates to individual and/or structural causation. In Australia, despite academic research that has at times highlighted the complex interaction between structural and individual causes of homelessness, individualist explanations have dominated popular imagination and policy and program responses (Fopp, 2015; Coleman & Fopp, 2014; Bullen, 2015). Individualist causation discourses are generally associated with descriptions of behavioural issues, such as excessive alcohol use and substance addiction (Johnsen, Cloke & May, 2005a, 2005b; Kemp, Mackay &Lynch, 2006); family violence and sexual abuse (Bearsley-Smith et al., 2008); psychological/psychiatric problems such as depression, low self-esteem, schizophrenia (Cameron et al., 2004); the effect of loss and grief (Crane, Fu & Warnes, 2004), and in the context of housing-treatment debates, explanations of homeless clients as having ‘high and complex needs’ (Nash, 2002; Warnes & Gove, 2006). These causation debates are similar across different countries ---– but this chapter particularly draws on western literature. In the US, Rosenthal (2000) argues that homeless people have been viewed as ‘slackers’ (blameworthy and incompetent); ‘lackers’ (those who perhaps because of mental illness or substance use are homeless); and as ‘unwilling victims’ (those caught in circumstances beyond their control such as labor market changes). In the UK, Neale (1997) notes that individualist discourses construct people as being homeless because of individual moral failings, or refer to people who, although not entirely responsible for their situation, can be reformed or assisted through appropriate case work. Structural inequalities that contribute to causing homelessness tend to be associated with broader social and economic forces, which include changing labor markets and the inadequacies of the housing market. Furthermore, the decline in public housing has placed households at risk of housing stress and homelessness, and has failed to provide appropriate, stable, and affordable housing to low income groups (Breakey & Fisher, 1990; Neale, 1997; Burke 1997; Yates & Wulff, 2000; Orchard, 2000; Randolph, Judd & Judd, 2000; Watson, 2000; Burt, 2005; Walsh, 2011). These changes have occurred within the restructuring of the welfare state, the residualization of social housing as welfare housing (Wolch & Dear, 1993; Morris,
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Judd & Kavanagh, 2005), deinstitutionalization (Kearns & Smith, 1994; O’Dwyer, 1997; Peace & Kell, 2001; Sleegers, 2000; Robinson, 2003), and labor market restructuring. For some writers, there is a strong association between structural poverty and homelessness (Wolch & Dear, 1993; Burke, 1997; Shinn et al., 1998; Stojanovic et al., 1999; Hopper, 2002; Anderson & Christian, 2003; Morris, Judd & Kavanagh, 2005). State responses, employment options, the housing market, and public attitudes towards those in poverty have a manifestation in the lived experiences of homelessness (Saunders, 2005). Housing policy analysts have consistently pointed towards the reduction in public funding to public and community housing, rising housing prices, and the increased numbers of people in private rental as significant factors in placing households at risk of housing stress and potentially homelessness (Burke 1997; Orchard, 2000). Horsell (2014) and Bullen (2015) argue that social policy approaches have, in some instances, drawn attention to the structural context of homelessness. However, in practice, policy discourses (such as social inclusion/ exclusion discourses) have been used to reconstruct the homeless citizen to accommodate the needs of the market economy. Homelessness literature frequently combines structural/individual explanations of homelessness (Pleace, 2000). That is, structural factors such as economic inequalities, poverty, unemployment, and lack of affordable housing can create the conditions within which homelessness occurs. Yet, some individuals are more vulnerable to the effects of these adverse social and economic conditions than others (Pleace, 2000). Zufferey (2017) argues that this analysis of homelessness can be taken further by proposing an intersectional social work approach that considers social structures, institutionalized (or organizational practices, multiple identifications and social interactions, cultural symbols, and discursive representations of social problems (see also Winker & Degele, 2011).
Alternative research approaches to homelessness: co-research and design There is a strong nexus between homelessness research and policymaking. Research has played a significant role in the constitution of what counts as homelessness, through critical examination of causation, enumeration discourses, and consequent policy solutions. As Farrugia and Gerrard (2016) argue, while representing a desire to alleviate homelessness, the homelessness research orthodoxy has been reluctant to problematize the objectification of people experiencing homelessness and normative assumptions. A critical politics of homelessness would promote research that rejects normative distinctions between the homeless (‘them’) and the rest (of ‘us’), highlighting the relations of power and privilege that are embedded in contemporary homelessness (Farrugia & Gerrard, 2016). In this regard, Zufferey (2017) also argues that an intersectional social work approach to homelessness can provide new reflections about intersecting power relations when researching homelessness. For example, when considering an intersectional research approach to homelessness, it is important to consider participatory
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research approaches; sample for and ask directly about diversity; allow informants to identify their own social locations; facilitate diverse responses through creative research designs; and disseminate data in collaboration with community members, to influence social change (Hulko, 2015, pp. 77–85). Emerging innovative approaches to policy research can be evidenced through participatory approaches, which include service user-led evaluations of Housing First in Canada (Coltman et al., 2015), and participatory, co-research designs (Smith, 2010; FEANTSA, 2005). For example, the Toronto Housing First service houses people with a mental illness. They work collaboratively with ‘The People With Lived Experience Caucus’, to complete evaluation research and to provide lived experience advice to the service, by people who have experienced homelessness and used the mental health system (Coltman, et al., 2015). As well, Smith (2010) reports on training co-researchers and implementing a co-research project with young people who are experiencing homelessness from diverse ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds in the UK, Netherlands, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. Further research is needed that incorporates creative policy and research codesign possibilities, with the aim to incorporate the diverse voices of people who experience homelessness in policy making processes.
Conclusion The concluding question that remains is: if policy and service responses took account of the intersecting complexities of subjective homeless experiences, would Peter still be alive today? In this chapter, we provided background information about homelessness in Australia and discussed definitional debates, enumeration, and causation policy discourses, from a predominantly western perspective. We argued that objective definitions of homelessness can make invisible diverse subjective experiences of homelessness in Australia that do not fit ‘mainstream’ cultural understandings. We concluded that an intersectional approach to homelessness can be inclusive of both material experiences and discursive constructions, transcending objective/ subjective or individual/structural debates. To further incorporate the diverse voices of people who experience homelessness in policymaking and to challenge unequal power relations, we advocated for alternative research designs that include people affected by homelessness as co-researchers, with the aim to contribute new information to homelessness policymaking processes.
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Tipple, G. & Speak, S. (2005). Definitions of homelessness in developing countries. Habitat International, 29(2), 377–352. Tomas, A. & Dittmar, H. (1995). The experience of homeless women: An exploration of housing histories and the meaning of home. Housing Studies, 10(4), 493–515. Toro, P. (2007). Towards an international understanding of homelessness. Journal of Social Issues, 163(3), 461–481. Walsh, T. (2011). Homelessness and the law. Annandale: Federation Press. Wardhaugh, J. (1999). The unaccommodated woman: Home, homelessness and identity. The Sociological Review, 47(1), 91–109. Warnes, H. & Gove, M. (2006). Housing people with complex needs: Managing transitional housing tenancies. Parity, 6, 19–21. Watson, S. (2000). Homelessness revisited: New reflections on old paradigms. Urban Policy and Research, 18(2), 159–170. Watson, S. & Austerberry, H. (1986). Housing and homelessness: A feminist perspective. London: Routledge. Winker, G. & Degele, N. (2011). Intersectionality as multi-level analysis: Dealing with social inequality. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 18(1), 51–66. Wolch, J. & Dear, M. (1993). Malign neglect: Homelessness in an American city. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Yates, J. & Wulff, M. (2000). W(h)ither low cost private rental housing? Urban Policy and Research, 18(1), 33–52. Zufferey, C. (2017). Homelessness and social work: An intersectional approach. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Zufferey, C. & Chung, D. (2015). Red dust homelessness: Housing, home and homelessness in remote Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 41, 13–22. Zufferey, C. & Kerr, L. (2004). Identity and everyday experiences of homelessness: Some implications for social work. Australian Social Work, 57(4), 343–353.
10 A portrait of homelessness in the Asia Pacific Carole Zufferey and Nilan Yu
Introduction In putting together this edited book, we sought to show many forms – faces, so to speak – of homelessness. As a way of concluding this book, we reflect on the faces of homelessness in eight countries from the Asia Pacific and how state responses in different countries shape how homelessness is lived. Our understandings of homelessness are frequently confined to our political and economic life worlds, with people in one country often having a very limited understanding of homelessness in other countries. This book broadens our shared knowledge about homelessness, by exploring differing definitions, state responses to and lived experiences of homelessness in Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia. This collection of accounts of homelessness in different countries progresses current scholarship about homelessness, allowing us to examine, compare, and analyze a range of state responses and representations of homelessness. In this chapter, we use intersectionality as a critical lens, to highlight structural and individual issues, as well as intersecting social categories such as gender, class, socioeconomic and geographical locations that contribute to the portrait of homelessness in the Asia Pacific. We acknowledge that macro processes associated with housing, welfare, economic, and employment policies shape the experiences and faces of homelessness. As Jamrozik and Nocella (1998) argued, state responses generally represent remedial solutions that mitigate the residual manifestations of structural issues. Partial and reactionary welfare remedies hide from view structural inequalities generating issues such as homelessness, thereby precluding social change. Unequal social relations extend from the interpersonal to the community and from national to broader global economic, political, and social contexts. In contrast with structural understandings of social issues, dominant representations in public discourses and social policies frequently reflect individualist assumptions that frame social issues in the realm of the personal (Zufferey, 2017). Drawing on post-structural theorizing, Bacchi (2009) argues that societal politics, especially in regards to national and global governance, create the social conditions in which social issues such as homelessness are constructed. While we speak of experiences, definitions, and responses to homelessness as if they were distinct albeit interrelated constructs, definitions and state responses
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to homelessness are inextricably intertwined with the lived experiences of homelessness. Experiences of homelessness, to a significant extent, interconnect with how we define and respond to it. With the hope of expanding the analysis of state policies and practice approaches, and to offer a critical account of homelessness, we argue that unequal power relations shape social issues in society and state institutions, intersecting with unequal social relations such as gender, class/caste, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and rural/urban geographical locations and contexts (Zufferey, 2017).
Intersectionality as a critical frame While predominantly highlighting contemporary state responses, the chapters in this book captured how understandings of homelessness have changed over time, and in different historical, cultural, and geographical contexts. An intersectional approach enables us to understand that homelessness is embedded in intersecting power relations that are contextual and dynamic, and shaped by political, social, economic, and cultural change (Zufferey, 2017). Intersectionality posits that state policies, legislation, and welfare responses reflect unequal intersections that contribute to social issues such as homelessness. Taking our analysis beyond individualized identity politics, we draw on structural accounts of intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1991), thinking simultaneously at the level of structures, dynamics, and subjectivities (Carbin & Edenheim, 2013). Reflecting on black women’s lives in the American context, Patricia Hill Collins’ (2000, p. 277) intersectional approach identifies four dimensions of power, which include: (1) a structural dimension such as how social institutions are organized to reproduce subordination over time, (2) a disciplinary dimension, which highlights the role of the state and other institutions involved in surveillance to regulate inequalities; (3) a hegemonic dimension, which deals with dominant ideology, culture, and consciousness; and (4) an interpersonal dimension, covering everyday social interaction. Intersectionality has been used in a structuralist way, to forward a social justice agenda. This allow us to examine how social inequalities such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ageism are mutually constitutive and interact at micro (individual), mezzo (group) and macro (society) levels (Murphy et al., 2009, p. 10). In a global context, Mehrotra (2010) maintains that intersectional social work must increasingly incorporate discussions on migration, diaspora, and nationality. In regards to geographical locations, Sandberg (2013, p. 351) suggests that “differences between urbanity and rurality are not only a matter of distribution of resource . . . but are also linked to the privileges of definition that come with being situated as either at the center or at the periphery”. Rural locations are located at the periphery and can create vulnerabilities, such as isolation, unemployment, and lack of access to services and supports (Sandberg, 2013), which can contribute to rural-to-urban migration, as evident in some of the chapters in this book. This critical frame that focuses on the intersections of structural inequality at the micro-mezzo-macro levels is used below in analysing definitions, state responses, and lived experiences of homelessness.
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Definitions of homelessness Homelessness increasingly became an issue in western developed countries in the1980s. However, homelessness in Asian developed countries, such as Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, gained prominence after the economic decline during the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s (Ku, Kim & Yuyama, 2012). Although there is a debate in literature about the merits or otherwise of narrow and broad definitions of homelessness, most of the chapters focused on visible forms of homelessness such as ‘street sleepers’, which is how homelessness is commonly understood. Homelessness defined as ‘rooflessness’, sleeping rough or being without a shelter of any kind, is consistent with dominant understandings of homelessness in East Asia (Kennett & Mizuuchi, 2010). Increasing numbers of visibly homeless people, especially during economic crises, often serve as the impetus for governments to act. Responses to visible homelessness are then prioritized in policy definitions and representations of homelessness in state responses. In the chapters of this book, homelessness was framed as being an issue of urban governance, as a short term and crisis ‘problem’ that can become chronic if left unchecked, as a criminal issue and as being related to the failure of the welfare system and of the family or informal supports. Notwithstanding Horsell and Zufferey’s (Chapter 9) critique of objective definitions, enumeration, and causation discourses in Australian homelessness policies, these policy processes are integral to advocating for homelessness as a state responsibility and policy issue. State policy responses are also integral to shaping community attitudes. In the absence of official policy definition of homelessness in China, Qiu and Zufferey (Chapter 3) noted how responses to homelessness are represented in legislation as managing ‘beggars’ and ‘vagrants’. Therefore, social consciousness about ‘homelessness’, including media and public concerns, tended to concentrate on vulnerable ‘beggars’ such as children in beggar families, not on ‘homelessness’ as a concept. The typologies of begging developed by Chinese academics fail to capture the complexities of lived homelessness (Chen & Li, 2010). Homelessness policy definitions are inextricably linked to welfare and housing systems, which then contribute to shaping experiences of homelessness. The chapters discussed how homelessness was defined and counted in their respective countries. They highlighted how policy definitions tended to refer to visible homelessness and to people who were destitute and sleeping on the streets. However, broader understandings of homelessness were also evident. For example, the definition adopted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is much broader than what is used in the Indian Census (Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, 2011) to include those in night shelters, transit homes, temporary children homes, and those sleeping in work places, in their hand-push carts and those who lived in temporary structures at construction sites. Definitional issues were evident in all chapters and contributed to the complexities inherent in developing shared understandings of what homelessness means in the Asia Pacific region. Definitions are contested, along with debates about the counting of homeless people. The census data that enumerated homelessness in different
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countries ranged considerably from 811 in Hong Kong to around 13,000 homeless people in Korea and 938,348 in urban areas of India. It is interesting to note that in Korea (Chapter 6), the definition is broad but the number of people counted as homeless was much lower than any other country in the Asia Pacific region. This is an area for further study given the argument that the broader the definition, the higher the numbers. However, data on homelessness across countries cannot be directly compared, which is the challenge of enumerating this population group. As well, the usual census ‘point in time’ method of counting has been criticized for being insufficient to capture the magnitude of people who are homeless, particularly the nuances of the cycling in and out of homelessness and the invisible homeless not included in the census count (ABS, 2011). The chapters predominantly explored visible urban homelessness, which differs from rural experiences of homelessness. Rural poverty and rural-to-urban migration were commonly referred to as contributing to homelessness, including in China and the Philippines. Homelessness was frequently associated with unemployment and destitution. Residents of urban poor communities or relocation areas were also at risk of homelessness and of turning to the streets to earn a living, due to a lack of employment and livelihood sources. These so-called urban poor or ‘squatter’ communities hide the true extent of homelessness. When broad poverty definitions of homelessness are used, estimates are much higher. The highly insecure and substandard living conditions in these slums constitute a significant proportion of homelessness that is often left unaccounted for, with official enumeration largely seen in the context of poverty reduction strategies, not in homelessness specifically. The same can be said for the homeless children in voluntary institutional care in Sri Lanka (Chapter 5). The keeping of the children in conditions akin to institutionalized homelessness disguises a form of homelessness, one that shapes the future for generations of children. What we see in the chapters is that state responses to homelessness, more often than not, are confined to visible homelessness. And yet, the accounts in the chapters also indicate the fluid interchange between visible and other forms of homelessness, with people living in substandard housing being at high risk of ending up sleeping rough, and with the previously roofless having limited access to safe and adequate housing. A key challenge for scholarship and policy work is the broadening of conceptions and definitions of homelessness, so that state responses can address different forms, including hidden homelessness.
State responses The chapters outlined varied and changing state responses to homelessness. The chapter on Japan (Chapter 2) illustrated changing welfare initiatives in response to the evolving concern of day laborers. Monetary government relief for families was highlighted in the discussion of state responses in the Philippines (Chapter 8). In Hong Kong, state responses came in the form of partnerships between public institutions and NGOs, with a ‘one-stop service’ designed to provide outreach and accommodation assistance (Chapter 7). In Sri Lanka (Chapter 5) and Korea
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(Chapter 6), institutionalization was a central element of state responses. The responses to homelessness in the Asia Pacific were a combination of initiatives of different stakeholders associated with state institutions including central government, non-government social welfare agencies and local city governments. As a response to increasing incidences of homelessness, a number of government and non-government services outlined in the chapters enacted so-called ‘rescue’ efforts to assist ‘street sleepers’, to manage urban spaces and to reduce visible homelessness. For example, in Japan (Chapter 2), Korea (Chapter 6), Hong Kong (Chapter 7), and China (Chapter 3), government concerns were raised when there were increasing numbers of visible rough sleepers in public places. However, as seen in Hong Kong, when the visibility of homelessness is reduced and the definition of homelessness is narrow, this can increase the invisibility of homelessness in temporary, inadequate, and substandard housing. Civil society organizations were key stakeholders in addressing the welfare issues associated with homelessness, especially in the cases of India (Chapter 4) and Sri Lanka (Chapter 5), where the roles of such organizations were highlighted. Although active civil society organizations can be represented as an indication of strong social capital, the dominant role of civil society organizations in addressing issues such as homelessness is indicative of how the issue is conceptualized and defined at the state level. The central positioning of these agencies allows state mechanisms to distance themselves, essentially framing homelessness as an apolitical issue that is beyond state responsibility. Given the international recognition of housing as a human right, we tend to think of state responses in terms of the supports given to those experiencing homelessness. However, while the chapters outlined some such supports, they also documented disrespectful and abusive responses directed towards people experiencing homelessness by service providers and government institutions. For example, violent actions by workers in the Aid Stations in China were reported, one of which led to the death of an educated young man, instigating government-led changes to the Aid system (Chapter 3). Children’s homes in Sri Lanka (Chapter 5) were deemed to be hazardous to the children’s health and safety, not secure or ‘home-like’. Homelessness, represented a begging and vagrancy, was a criminal offence in some countries, particularly in China and India. The authors in this book expressed similar concerns to a group European authors about the criminalization of homelessness and social control responses being a breach of human rights (Jones, 2013). For example, ‘The Prevention of Begging Act 1959’ in India criminalizes poverty by mandating the arrest and detention of beggars. Akin to other countries across the world, countries in the Asia Pacific also reported ‘cleaning the streets’ responses and the forced eviction of families and individuals from the sidewalks, in the context of the gentrification and beautification of cities. Social control responses towards the visibly homeless (that is, people ‘sleeping rough’ or ‘street sleepers’) were supported by the respective countries’ laws and the governance of public spaces. In Japan, this came in the form of a discussion about the geographical design and management of pubic space that aimed to
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exclude homeless people, such as the building of physical structures and benches that people cannot sleep on, and the fencing off of public parks in the urban design of cities. In China (Chapter 3) and the Philippines (Chapter 8), the homeless were sent back to rural villages in the guise of being ‘rescued’ or of implementing of the hukou system. It has been observed that rather than supplementing livelihoods through welfare provisions, the management of homeless people by state authorities contributes to removing their rights to employment and livelihood opportunities in the city (Harvey, 2008). Several chapters, including the one from Australia (Chapter 9), argued that state policies often excluded the poor. Limited housing and welfare provisions have contributed to increasing the risks of homelessness for the poorest members of society. These exclusionary state responses can effectively deny people’s basic human rights and their welfare rights as citizens. While national policies and legislative responses to homelessness are frequently the responsibility of central governments, it is also responded to by local governments and municipalities, augmented by the work of church-based civil society organizations. The responses of these different organizations are localized, varied, continually changing, and contextualized within global and localized politics. The chapters each focused on their own state responses in the context of the authors’ own experiences and research interests. Overall, state institutions and facilities variably focused on accommodation, transitional care, rehabilitation, and repatriation, depending on the localized contexts of each country. Often, interventions aimed at the personal level framed the issue of homelessness in deficit terms, such as people having difficulties and incapacities and requiring individualized treatment. This individualized framing hides from view structural causes that produce the experience of homelessness in specific populations groups, frequently distinguished by social markers such as class, caste, age, ethnicity, and gender. A range of practices accompany state responses to homelessness, including charity in the context of religious and self-reliance discourses and return-to-country policies. When reporting on the care of civil society organizations, such as in India and the Philippines, homeless people who were ‘rescued’ by church based agencies drew on religious discourses that for example, ‘thanked God’ for the help they received. While the work of faith-based organizations benefit homeless people in certain ways and provide access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and employment, intersecting social inequalities remain unchallenged. The residual welfare state is designed to promote individual ‘self-reliance’. As discussed in the introductory chapter, the notion of self-reliance has been deconstructed in western literature (Hebert & Mincyte, 2014). However, accounts of resilience and selfreliance still form an important theme in state responses to homelessness, such as in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. The individualist, neoliberal critique of the welfare state is not always shared in Asia Pacific countries, as few discernible welfare state systems exist in some countries. In China, individualist government interventions that returned people back to their rural villages when begging in cities was resisted, partly due to the extent of rural poverty. Government funded services and policies tended to have more neoliberal aims, focusing on the economic and social management of homelessness, compared to church-based
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agencies drawing on welfare and charity discourses. State discourses and policies implemented by non-governmental or governmental organizations ignore wider structural inequalities that contribute to causing homelessness. Nonetheless, it is evident from the chapters in this book that representations of and localized responses to homelessness differ, as they are historically, economically, politically, socially, and culturally embedded, shaping lived experiences of homelessness.
Lived experiences There is a diversity of experiences of homelessness across Asian Pacific countries. In the Philippines (Chapter 8), two case studies highlighted the resilience of young people and families living on the streets, and the importance of state financial assistance and housing support. In the Australian (Chapter 9), one case study was offered that documented the failures of services, contributing to the death of a young man with multiple mental health and drug and alcohol issues. In a Hong Kong survey (Chapter 7), people reported multiple reasons for being homeless, including unemployment, housing-related issues such as conflict, overcrowding, home evictions and infestations, financial issues, as well as addiction, incarceration, health and gambling issues. Some chapters, such as chapters on China and India, focused on changing family structures and reduced family supports that were perceived to contribute to homelessness. Although obligations of family support continue to exist, filial piety and family bonds are relatively weaker than before (Jin & Guo, 2016). Domestic violence, elder abuse, child trafficking, absent parents and ‘leftbehind’ children were emerging concerns. Focusing on children from poor families, the Sri Lankan chapter (Chapter 5) raised questions about the experience of children and whether institutional facilities can be considered a ‘home’ for the children in their care. The authors argued for improving the standards of these institutions and the effectiveness of the reintegration process with family. They advocated for the state to address the human rights issues faced by institutionalized children in Sri Lanka. As highlighted in the India chapter (Chapter 4), people living on the streets experienced sexual assault (especially women), public humiliation, and shaming, which is a common experience for people affected by homelessness across the globe. The shame and stigma of experiencing homelessness frequently prevents people from accessing services and asking for community and family supports. These chapters evidenced how structural and individual issues that constitute homelessness remain under-addressed by state responses. The chapters painted diverse portraits of homelessness, which highlighted how gendered experiences of homelessness intersected with multiple other issues associated with class, age, employment, health, and emotional wellbeing. In regards to homeless men, the Korean chapter (Chapter 6) presented three different faces of the lived experiences of homeless men: (1) that of a middle-aged man who was previously married, a ‘breadwinner’ with a stable job, until he lost his job in the economic crisis, which affected his mental well-being; (2) a single man with a history of insecure work and housing, conflictual relationships with family, health, mental health, and alcohol issues and a criminal record, and (3) a young man who
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experienced family conflict, unemployment, insecure housing, unstable mental health, extreme poverty, and social exclusion. These scenarios were seen to typify men’s homelessness in Korea. The chapter from Japan (Chapter 2) also provided three very similar categories of homeless men. The first category was of men who had been regularly employed, educated, and married, and who lived in normal housing conditions before becoming homeless during the 1990s for the first time. The second category consisted of men who had a secure workplace but were living alone in accommodation provided by their employer before becoming unemployed and homeless, whose supports and social life had been restricted to the workplace. The third category involved men who frequently changed their jobs and were without any permanent accommodation, such as day laborers who became unable to work because of age or illness, and unable to afford rooms in ‘flophouses’. These studies of men’s homelessness emphasized the labor market and unemployment as key contributors to homelessness, which were also alluded to in other chapters. This points to the gendered labor market of such countries, in the context of entrenched global and local inequalities. Overall, the chapters highlighted that homelessness is experienced as both a crisis and a chronic condition, associated with financial disadvantage, marginalization from mainstream society and limited access to ‘safe’ housing, adequately paid employment, and medical, social, welfare, and income supports. Lack of access to safe and adequate housing is a breach of human rights but only one of the issues contributing to the lived experience of homelessness in the Asia Pacific. State responses to homelessness are often framed as actions intended to address the challenges and problems faced by individual homeless people. However, the chapters highlighted how state mechanisms and responses to homelessness shaped the lived experience of homelessness. State responses are not invariably beneficent reactions to the condition of being homeless but play an active role in the shaping of people’s lives and experiences. This was evident in the criminalization of homelessness, represented as vagrancy and begging. Subtler, but no less potent, were the discourses of ‘rescue’ and ‘self-reliance’ that accompanied certain state responses as well as public and media representations of homelessness.
Discerning the intersections The chapters provided insights into the differing responses and perceptions of homelessness, including gendered and classed experiences of homelessness in the Asia Pacific region. Embedded in these accounts are complex intersections and social inequalities that form a significant part of the politics and economy of the different countries. In outlining lived experiences of homelessness, the chapters prominently depicted social inequality along gender and class divides as well as broader, macro-economic inequalities between different levels of government and nation states. While men’s homelessness was frequently associated with unemployment, women and children’s experiences of homelessness were often dominated by stories of violence and abuse that occurred in the context of power inequalities
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associated with unequal economic, class/caste, age, and gender relations. For example, in India, Goel and Chowdhary (Chapter 4) reported that women from poor families were more likely to be victims of dowry-related domestic violence compared to women from upper classes. In Sri Lanka, Ariyadasa, McLaren and McIntyre-Mills (Chapter 5) explored ‘homelessness’ experienced by institutionalized children from poor, rural families. Following gendered cultural assumptions about men being the ‘providers’ for their families, Kiener and Mizuuchi’s chapter on Japan (Chapter 2) and Kim and Heo’s chapter on Korea (Chapter 6) focused particularly on men’s experiences of unemployment and changing labor markets, in the context of unequal economic and welfare conditions. In the context of gendered and classed power relations, middle class married men felt the burden of providing for their family and suffered an intolerable despair, shame, and anger for failing to do so. Gendered assumptions also affect women’s opportunities in education and employment and their social position in the family and the workplace. These are examples of intersecting gender and class inequalities that constitute the faces of homelessness in different countries, shaped by policy definitions and state responses to the issue. Class and geographical inequalities were central to the stories of homelessness. The stark rural-urban divide featured prominently in China and was alluded to in the Philippines and India. Poor citizens from rural areas moving into urban areas in search of a livelihood and employment are in violation of their state-designated geographic and social place/s. In the cities of Japan, the yoseba and day laborers were integral to unequal local economies, providing industries with cheap and economically viable labor. As well, broad social and environmental problems, as discussed in Japan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Hong Kong, and South Korea, invariably affect the lower classes, be it wars and armed conflicts, environmental disasters, or international financial crises. Drawing on structural understandings of intersectionality, Winker and Degele (2011) argue that the effects of unequal power relations are multi-layered, including at the levels of social structures (such as the state), in the constructions of social identities, and in symbolic representations of social issues, such as homelessness policy definitions, or media representations of homelessness. There were common themes across the different chapters that were consistent with debates in literature about individual and structural (or micro and macro) causes of and responses to homelessness. The macro or structural conditions that contributed to homelessness were consistent with the findings of Tipple and Speak (2009)’s large study of nine developing countries, which included rural poverty contributing to rural to urban migration; changes in the labor market; lack of access to housing, and inadequate welfare policies. In outlining lived experiences of homelessness, the chapters touched on personal issues and highlighted contributing events in an individual’s life biography, including unemployment, violence and abuse, the breakdown of family supports and the barriers related to experiencing different disabilities. These issues were assumed to provide explanations for homelessness at the individual level. However, broader societal dynamics that generate conditions that are most easily recognized as personal problems were also examined. For example, the
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chapters all alluded to structural-individual debates and the idea that without adequate government intervention and societal change, the chronicity of homelessness will increase. State responses to homelessness reflect how societies live together, share resources, and treat each other. Although homelessness is a global issue, it is best understood and responded to within localized contexts of each country. As the chapters demonstrate, each country has different resources to address homelessness but these are usually a combination of resources from national, local governments and non-governmental or civil society organizations. We acknowledge that current localized understandings of homelessness should not, however, preclude a global perspective that recognizes how unequal relations within the capitalist global order potently shape local conditions. For example, the life-threatening destitution suffered by those who live in pushcarts or on garbage landfills in the Philippines cannot be seen in isolation of the country’s macro-economic realities rooted in its colonial past and its neocolonial present. The widespread homelessness experienced in Japan and South Korea in the late 1990s was very much linked to the broader Asian financial crisis. What we are pointing out here is that, apart from the structural inequalities within societies in terms of gender, race, and class that constitute the experience of homelessness, there are also global, structural inequalities between nations that shape the lives of people in those societies. Homeless people who become the faces of homelessness embody such inequalities. This perspective recognizes that structural forces at national and international levels help contextualize whatever intervention is undertaken at the local and individual levels. This book has provided insightful contributions about the complexities of state and civil society responses in Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia. It has further developed our understandings of the phenomenon of homelessness in the Asia Pacific region. As Tipple and Speak (2009) note, western understandings and broad definitions of homelessness are useful. However, they cannot be applied to developing countries with different social conditions, housing norms, and welfare resources. Every one of these chapters brought to light new knowledge regarding the historical and contemporary welfare and housing debates about homelessness in their respective countries. The chapters covered the intentions and limits of state responses and how these shaped representations and experiences of homelessness. To inspire social change, the authors identified areas for service and policy improvements and documented successful approaches to ending homelessness. This book has provided crucial knowledge to the field of homelessness by offering a critical analysis of different responses to the issue in the Asia Pacific region. Homelessness exists in the contexts of state responses in each country, as well as in the context of intersecting social inequalities at the global and local level. With a view to inspiring hope for change, we have highlighted how state responses have improved over time, as well as emerging areas for social advocacy, focusing on social justice and human rights for people who experience homelessness.
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Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA) 50, 51 Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy 117 Act on the Support for Welfare and Selfreliance of the Homeless 80, 85–6, 88 Aid Stations 30, 32, 33, 34, 36, 39, 41–2 ambulatory assistance 18–19 anti-domestic violence laws 33 Anti-Squatting-law 117 Anti-unemployment Network 18 Asian Financial Crisis 7, 78, 93, 94, 98, 148, 155 Asia Pacific 2 Australia: alternative research approaches to homelessness 140–1; background 134–5; case study 133–4, 152; causation of homelessness discourses 139–40; definitions of homelessness 135–8; enumeration of homelessness discourses 138–9; homelessness in 2, 7, 133–45; homelessness statistics 134; NAHA 138; NPAH 138; policy responses 138–40; SAAP 138; Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 135 ‘bedspace lodgers’ 93–4 beggars 33–4, 37–8, 51–2, 53 Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa [Union for the Advancement of Socialist Thought and Action] (BISIG) 124 cagehomes 93–4, 101, 102 capsule hotels 102 causation discourses 139–40 children: child beggars 37–8; experiences of homelessness 153; homeless without family 39–41; institutional homelessness in Sri Lanka 68–75; KSEM sanctuary model for 125–7; ‘left-behind’ children 40, 67–8
China: absence of official definition of homelessness 30, 41; Aid Stations 30, 32, 41–2; anti-domestic violence laws 33; background 29–30; child beggars 37–8; Children Rescue and Protection Centres 37; contemporary responses to homelessness in 32–4; “Detention and Deportation Measures” 32; disabled homeless 36–7; elderly homeless 34–5; emerging areas of consideration 41–2; experience of homeless people 34–41; history of internal displacement and government responses 31–2; homeless children without family 39–41; homeless families with children 37–9; homelessness in 2, 6, 28–46; household registration system 29, 31; innovative approaches to homelessness 42–3; invisibility of homelessness in policy responses 30–1; ‘Measures for Sheltering and Repatriation of Urban Vagrants and Beggars’ 31–2; ‘Measures for the Administration of Relief for Vagrants and Beggars without Assured Living Sources in Cities’ 32, 33; migration 29; official definition of urban vagrants and beggars 33–4; ‘Opinions on Legally Handling Several Issues on Guardian’s Infringement upon the Rights and Interests of Minors’ 37; Renewal Center 32; Ruifeng Social Service Center 32; rural-urban divide 29–30, 154; Sheltering and Repatriation Centres 32; Sunshine Community 32; ‘three withouts’ 32; welfare culture 30–1; young homeless 35–6 Christian Concern for the Homeless (CCHA) 97 citizenship 51
civil society organizations (CSOs) 61, 119, 122, 125, 150 civil war 66 coffin rooms 102 Community Organizing for People’s Empowerment (COPE) 124 Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDDS) 119 conditional cash transfer (CCT) program 118, 119 Conference of Tokyo Wards’ Welfare Office Heads 18 cubicles 100–1 day laborers: employment 23; homelessness among 13–14; riots 14; yoseba welfare system and 11–13, 23, 154 Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) 52 destitution 54–5 disabled homeless 36–7 ‘Earth Saviours’ 48 elderly homeless 34–5 enumeration discourses 138–9 environmental disaster 67–8 European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion (ETHOS) 80 factory flats 102 Families in Need of Special Protection (FNSP) 115 filial piety 53 flophouses 11, 20 Gawad Kalinga (GK) 125 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) 115 homeless 113 homeless children without family 39–41 homeless families with children 37–9 homelessness: in Asia Pacific 2; in Australia 1, 133–45; causation discourses 79–80, 139–40; in China 2, 28–46; contexts 79–80; critical conceptualization of 2–3; cultural definition of 136–7; definitional debates 136–8; definition of homeless street families 113; definitions of 10, 135–8, 148–9; enumeration discourses 138–9; in Hong Kong 2, 93–110; in India 2, 47–63; in Japan 2, 5, 9–27; in Korea 2, 78–92; lived experiences 152–3; in the
Philippines 1, 2, 111–32; social work accounts of 3–5; in Sri Lanka 2, 64–77; state responses 149–52 Homeless Outreach Population Estimation (H.O.P.E.) 102–5 Homeless People Job Assistance Program 18 homeless shelters 59–60 Homeless Street Families (HSF) database 121 Hong Kong: advent of assistance and street sleeping as social issue 96–7; ‘bedspace lodgers’ 93–4; ‘cagehomes’ 93–4, 101; coffin rooms 102; common forms of substandard private housing 99–102; cubicles 100–1; emergence of street sleeper issue 95–6; factory flats 102; homelessness in 2, 7, 93–110; Homeless Outreach Population Estimation 102–5; overview of events in homeless services 94–5; policy background 93–9; professionalization of street sleeper services 98–9; reasons of becoming homeless 107; recommendations for homelessness issue 109; resurgence of homelessness 102–8; rooftop huts 99–100; singleton hostels 98, 108, 109; state responses 96–9, 109, 149; ‘Street Sleepers Action Committee (SSAC)’ 96–7; Street Sleepers Registry 98, 102; Street Sleepers Shelter Trustees Inc.95; subdivided flats 100; suite rooms 101–2; temporary housing measures 97–8; ‘Three-year Action Plan to Help the Street Sleepers’ 94 Hotel Business Law 13 Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) 118 Housing First 141 Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 118 human-wildlife conflict 66–7 ‘IMF-type-homeless’ 82 India: background 47–8; changing sociocultural values 53–5; conceptualization of homelessness in 49–51; criminalization of homeless as beggars 51–2; definition of homeless household 50; Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board 52; denial of rights to citizenship 51; destitution of women 54–5, 56–8; eviction/ displacement of homeless people 52–3; experience of becoming homeless 56–8; experiences of homelessness 48–61,
Index 152; experience of living in homeless shelter 47–8, 59–60; experience of living on street 58–9; filial piety 53; government census data on homeless persons 50; health status of homeless persons 59; homelessness in 2, 6, 47–63; political values/politicization of homelessness 49–53; ‘The Prevention of Begging Act’ 51, 150; role of civil society organizations 61; social relationships 55; temporary/permanent shelter 52 Indigenous people (IPs) 115 individualist causation discourses 139 ‘internet cafe refugees’ 16 intersectionality 147, 154 Japan: ambulatory assistance 18–19; day laborers 11–14, 23; disappearance of homelessness in public space 22–3; emerging chronic homelessness 14–16; homelessness among day laborers 13–14; homelessness in 2, 5, 9–27; Homeless People Job Assistance Program 18; homeless policies 9–10; Hotel Business Law 13; keeping homeless people out of public space 14, 16, 22–3; lived experiences 17–19, 153; medical treatment 12–13; Mental Health Law 13; public assistance 10–11, 19–22, 149; Public Assistance Act 10; rough sleepers 13–14, 22; Self-reliance Support Law for Needy People 22; selfreliance support system 17–19; Social Welfare Law 20; Support Program for Transition to Community Life 17; transitional facilities 16–19; types of homeless people 15; war damage 10–11; work-based homeless support 16–19; work programs 17–18; yoseba 11–13, 23, 154 Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) 125 Kanlungan sa Er-Ma Ministries Inc. (KSEM) 125–7 Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Linking Arms Against Poverty) 119 Korea: Act on the Support for Welfare and Self-reliance of the Homeless 80, 85–6, 88; background 78–9; central government’s responses toward homelessness 84–6, 88–89, 149; contexts and discourses about
homelessness 79–80; definition of homeless 80; development of homeless policy 84–8; homelessness and responses in Seoul 86–90; homelessness in 2, 6–7, 78–92; ‘IMF-type-homeless’ 82; lived experiences of homelessness in Seoul 82–3, 152–3; National Survey on Housing Vulnerable People 82; scale and distribution of homelessness 80–2; Social Welfare Services (SWC) Act 84 ‘left-behind’ children 40, 67–8 Mental Health Law 13 mental illness 38–9, 51–2, 54, 139, 141 Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) 119 Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) 7, 114–15, 119, 121–4, 128–9 National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) 138 National Community Driven Development Program (NCDDP) 119 National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) 121 National Housing Authority (NHA) 118 National Partnership on Homelessness (NPAH) 138 neoliberalism 9 non-government organizations (NGOs) 32, 50, 51, 95, 96, 97, 98–9, 102 non-profit organizations (NPOs) 9, 18 Operation Balik Bahay Sagip Buhay (OBBSB) 124 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programs (4Ps) 119 Philippine Ecumenical Council for Community Organizing (PECCO) 124 Philippines: Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy 117; Anti-Squatting-law 117; background 111–12; BISIG 125; case vignette 116–17, 152; CCT program 118, 119; convergence framework for homeless 119–21, 128; COPE 124; creation of HUDCC 118; creation of NHA 118; face of homelessness in Metro Manila 115–17; FNSP 115; 4Ps 119; GIDA 115; GK 125; government programs/services 119–21; homelessness in Metro Manila 2, 7,
112–32; Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 118; HSF database 121; IPs 115; KADAMAY 125; KALAHI-CIDDS 119; KSEM sanctuary model for homeless street children 125–7; mass housing 118; MCCT-HSF 7, 114–15, 119, 121–4, 128–9; MCCT-HSF program conditionality 122; MCCTHSF program package 122–4; MMDA 119; national policies 117–19; NCDDP 119; NHTS-PR 121; OBBSB 124; package of services for homeless street families 123–4; PECCO 124; SEA-K 119; SLP 119; UDHA 113–14, 117, 118, 128; UPA 125; ZOTO 125 poverty 67–8 power 147 ‘Prevention of Begging Act, The’ 51, 150 public assistance 10–11, 19–22 Public Assistance Act 10 rehabilitation facilities 10–11 relief facilities 10–11 rooftop huts 99–100 rough sleepers: China 150; Hong Kong 93–9, 150; Japan 13–14, 22–3, 150; Korea 80, 81 rural-urban divide 29–30, 154 Salvation Army 95, 96 Self- Employment Assistance Kaunlaran (SEA-K) 119 Self-reliance Support Law for Needy People 22 singleton hostels 98, 108, 109 social relationships 55 Social Welfare Law 20 Social Welfare Services (SWC) Act 84 Society for Community Organisation (SoCO) 98 Special Law on Temporary Measures to Support the Self-reliance of Homeless People 16 Sri Lanka: background 64–5; civil war 66; dowry-related domestic violence 154; environmental disaster 67–8; experiences of homeless children 69–70; General Standards for the Promotion of Quality of Services of Voluntary Children’s Homes 73–4; homelessness in 2, 6, 64–77; home-like environments
in children’s homes 72; human-wildlife conflict 66–7; institutional homelessness in 68–75, 150; ‘left-behind’ children 67–8; lived experiences 152; policies to address children’s institutional homelessness 73; poverty 67–8; service providers’ perspectives on children’s experiences 70–2; standardization of children’s homes 73–4 St. Barnabas’ Home & Society (SBHS) 97 St. James’ Settlement (SJS) 98 street homelessness 58–9, 80, 81, 114–15 ‘Street Sleepers Action Committee (SSAC)’ 96–7 Street Sleepers Registry 102 Street Sleepers Shelter Trustees Inc. 95 structural causation discourses 139–40 subdivided flats 100 suite rooms 101–2 Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 135 Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) 138 Support Program for Transition to Community Life 17 Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) 119 temporary housing 97–8 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 73 United Nations’ ‘International Year of Shelter for the Homeless’ 96 Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1 ‘untouchables’ 54 Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) 113–14, 117, 118, 128 Urban Poor Associates (UPA) 125 urban vagrants 33–4 vagrancy 117 welfare policies 10–13 white card system 12 women 54–5, 56–8, 82, 95, 147, 153–4 yoseba 11–13, 23, 154 young homeless 35–6 Zone One Tondo (ZOTO) 125