WORLD HABITAT DAY
On the first Monday of October each year, World Habitat Day encourages us to reflect upon the fundamental right to have adequate shelter. The day also reminds us that we are responsible for shaping the future of our cities and towns.
When a city grows, it would seem like a good thing. However, one disadvantage is that homelessness increases. World cities with the highest homeless populations include:
- Washington, D.C. (9,000 homeless)
- Boston (16,000 homeless)
- Buenos Aires (30,000 homeless)
- Mexico City (46,000 homeless)
- Moscow (50,000 homeless)
- Los Angeles (58,000 homeless)
- New York City (74,000 homeless)
- Manila (3.1 million homeless)
Many people who are homeless in these cities live in slums. Others live permanently in homeless shelters. The homeless include children, adults, seniors, and entire families.
About 2 percent of the world’s population is homeless. This means that 150 million people around the globe don’t have a home. Additionally, 1.6 million people in the world don’t have adequate housing. Inadequate housing means a home does not contain the basic structure of a housing unit. It also means there is exposure to toxins and that the structure has severe physical problems. These problems could be a lack of plumbing, lack of heating and air conditioning, and inefficient electricity.
Homelessness has been a global epidemic for many years. Unfortunately, it seems that homelessness and access to adequate housing are too big of problems to solve. Some believe the answer lies in a commitment to affordable housing for all. Others believe prevention is the best way to solve the homeless problem. Providing short term housing for those who are about to get evicted is one way to prevent homelessness.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldHabitatDay
Every year on World Habitat Day, the UN presents The Habitat Scroll of Honour award. The winner of the prestigious award is someone who has made important contributions in various fields, including the plight of the homeless and improving the quality of urban life.
On World Habitat Day, human rights organizations address a variety of issues, including affordable housing, unequal property rights, and the increasing number of those living in slums. Another area of concern is how climate change and impending natural disasters affect habitats around the world.
To take part in World Habitat Day:
- Donate to an organization that advocates for the homeless
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter
- Think about what you can do to help shape the future of your community.
- Educate yourself on the problems associated with the affordable housing crisis
- Become an advocate for the homeless and those with inadequate housing
- Help someone in need find temporary housing
- Get involved in your local Habitat for Humanity
Share #WorldHabitatDay on social media.
WORLD HABITAT DAY HISTORY
In 1985, the United Nations designated the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day, with the first official observance hosted in Nairobi in 1986. Other host cities throughout the years have included New York City, London, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro, and Shanghai. A few themes for World Habitat Day have included, “Cities without Slums,” “Shelter for the Homeless,” and “Better City, Better Life.” Other themes have focused on healthy air quality, job creation, and better waste management.
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