October 05, 2021

The MIA- Global Action Office Advocates for all Those Experiencing Homelessness

October 10 marks World Homeless Day. The MIA- Global Action office continues to advocate for all those experiencing homelessness through its participation in the UN Working Group to End Homelessness (WGEH).  The WGEH collaborates with the United Nations, global platforms to end homelessness, and academic centers such as the Institute for Global Homelessness at DePaul University. The current focus of this working group is to

  1. End Street Homelessness
  2. Address systems and structural inequalities together to address Street Sleepers and Hidden Homelessness (disproportionately affecting women and children. Targets include: Addressing all structural and personal drivers of homelessness inter alia; alleviating domestic and family violence; upgrading slums; preventing evictions; increasing social protections; promoting measurement, counts, and disaggregated data regarding persons experiencing homelessness; and building communities’ resources to address housing insecurity and inadequacy.
  3. Identifying and highlighting good practices including: support services; leading organizations, technological opportunities; measurement tools.
  4. Reviewing research regarding COVID-19, and framing recommendations within the current global pandemic and prospects for a ‘post COVID-19 world”.

We can respond in numerous ways to the issue of homelessness. Here are some ideas:

  • Educate people about homeless issues
  • Celebrate and support local good works
  • Highlight local issues in the media
  • Donate to local service providers
  • Volunteer and provide hands-on help

The Mercy World supports and works with people experiencing homelessness around the world. Services include providing for basic needs, providing accommodation and care, and advocating for those who are homeless. Some ministries that MGA has recently featured include an interview with the Head of Strategic Planning Carol Vale, from McAuley Community Services for Women in Melbourne, Australia. An interview with Sr Libby Fernandez Founder and Executive Director of Mercy Pedalers, Sacramento, California. In MGA’s publication, “Hope In a Time of Pandemic- Responding to COVID 19 through a Mercy Lens” the issue of housing and homelessness is raised in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic. Issues covered include housing and ‘stay at home orders’, the right to adequate housing, health and wellbeing, evictions, and loss of livelihoods. 

Housing and “stay at home” orders have had a significant impact on those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. About 1.8 billion people around the world lack adequate housing. The right to adequate housing is fundamental for the enjoyment of other human rights. In this time of COVID-19 and social distancing, adequate housing is a matter of life and death. It is important to realize that protecting the health and wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness or living in informal settlements and shelters will also help flatten the curve of COVID-19.’ (Hope In a Time of Pandemic, pg. 16)

We must ensure that no one is left behind in this crisis. All shelters, hubs, and services that seek to improve the safety and wellbeing of homeless people have had to scale back during this time of pandemic. Pre-existing challenges, which those experiencing homelessness face, alongside the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely cause a significant increase in the number of people vulnerable to homelessness. It has been forecasted that many will experience eviction due to the inability to keep up with rent payments because of loss of livelihoods. This, in turn, will put people at risk of homelessness.

Leilani Farha, former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, stated “housing has become the frontline of defense against the coronavirus. Home has rarely been more of a life or death situation.’ In response to the pandemic, we must address both the root causes of the already existing homelessness crisis and the vulnerabilities of people experiencing homelessness by providing resources, safe shelter, and testing for COVID-19 symptoms to those in communal shelters and slums.

 

Are you are working in a Mercy-affiliated ministry in homelessness? Are you interested in sharing your ministry through a written or verbal contribution? Please contact the Mercy Global Action Office to register your interest.

 

Contact: Angela Reed, Head of Mercy Global Action mercyrep@mercyinternational.ie

 

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