Temporary jobs as a solution to erradicate homelessness.

The issue of people living on the streets has become a major topic of concern in modern society, in both developed and developing countries, and specially, in countries such as Nigeria and South Africa very lately. According to the Global Homelessness statistics of the Homeless World Cup it might be estimated that there could be between 100 million and 1.6 billion people living on the streets. However, States have been unable to design and implement effective policies that might allow them to provide a robust solution to this problem. Perhaps the issue might lie particularly in the way Governments approach this problem. The typical approach adopted to solve this social dislocation is the neoliberal approach by trying to blame individuals for their own failing while at the same time promoting a general message in the public that people living on the streets are criminals, beggars and lazy people. This approach is combined with a strong strategy of social control by sending the police and armed forces to remove them from the streets and with minimal intervention by the public sector in terms of social relief and assistance. This typical approach has been adopted for instance in countries such as Colombia where thousands of people living on the streets have been removed very recently in the Colombian capital in an attempt to improve the safety of individuals. Another type of approach might be led by institutions such as Courts that might order Governments to carry out different actions in order to solve the problem (i.e. Government of the Republic of South Africa vs Grootboom), however, the complexities and varieties of remedies issued by Courts might not allow at the end to achieve a clear solution to eradicate the problem in the short and the long term. Another type of approach is adopted by Social support organizations or civil society who takes the initiative and decide to take action by adopting different strategies. It might be argued that the sum of all these interventions at the end generate unintentionally a substantial change in the lives of people living on the streets, however, the fact that such interventions have not generated a real and tangible impact might entail that a new and fresh approach might have to be implemented if we are to eradicate this problem. In my previous post I argued that the Right to Social Security represents the means to fulfill the Right to a Vital Minimun as an end in itself, this means that the Right to Social Security or Social Protection must be immediate in order to ensure the survival of the person and to make sure that he or she is able to search for a job while the Right to Work constitutes a progressive obligation. However, the Right to Work as a progressive obligation depends also on immediate obligations by the States to provide a temporary job to people living on the streets so that they themselves might develop their own autonomy and personal responsibility. This entail that States have the obligation to provide a decent temporary job in the immediate short term once they have guaranteed the Right to a Vital minimun. The secret is to understand the interdependence and indivisibility of Human Rights, homelessness and the Right to Work. One initiative that might take into account this complexity is the case of the city of Alburqueque in the United States where the Mayor has been providing a temporary job to people living on the streets. In partnership with a local institution a van is dispatched around the city to pick up people living on the street who are interested in working. The job is paid $9 an hour and also provide them with lunch. This type of initiative allows people living on the streets to develop a sense of responsibility and to become better citizens. What is interesting is that the World Bank is also promoting strategies of temporary jobs, however, for some reason States have not been using this type of programmes for the benefit of people living on the streets. The design of a robust solution to eradicate the issue of homelessness still is very far to be reached however what is needed is more creativity and innovation through solid strategic interventions in the short and long term through immediate and progressive actions that might allow States to fulfill their obligations under international law.

 

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