10 October, 2017
World Homeless Day
Photo: © SewCream / Shutterstock
Around the world there are an estimated 100 million people without homes on any given night and as many as 1.6 billion people do not have adequate housing. 
The reasons behind every homeless situation are different but most come about from a complex interplay between individual circumstances and adverse structural factors beyond people’s control. Some of the most common factors contributing to homelessness include poverty, unemployment (or underemployment), poor mental or physical health, a lack of qualifications, substance abuse, relationship breakdown and physical abuse or danger.
Homelessness happens in every country around the globe, affecting the most vulnerable groups in our society. These include women leaving prison, migrants, elderly people, young people leaving institutional care, or veterans exiting the armed forces.
Oak’s partners work to prevent homelessness, and also to support vulnerable groups such as those mentioned above. For example, in England, the Bristol Missing Link provides a Court Assessment and Referral Service for women leaving prison. This aims to reduce reoffending and ensure a sustainable future for the women, including housing and financial stability.
The Birmingham Community Law Centre provides free legal advice and training to help prevent homelessness among low-income earners. Women Acting in Today’s Society empowers women and helps them reintegrate into society by building employment readiness and leadership capacity. In Scotland, the Refugee Survival Trust works with refugees and asylum seekers in danger of destitution and homelessness.
Across the Atlantic in New York City, BronxWorks helps prevent senior citizens from eviction. Sylvanus is one senior citizen that Bronxworks has helped. “I’ve been living in the Bronx for over 15 years,” he says. “Thanks to this programme, I’ve been able to get my bills paid and stay in my home.” In Boston, the City Life/Vida Urbana Ujima Project builds collective community power to tackle economic hardship.
Preventative measures can mean that
Homelessness is not inevitable. As we mark World Homeless Day on 10 October each year, by helping to raise awareness of the great work being done by organisations to end homelessness on both sides of the Atlantic.
All the organisations mentioned in this article are partners with Oak Foundation’s Housing and Homelessness Programme. They work to prevent homelessness by funding sustainable solutions that improve the economic and social wellbeing of marginalised youth, adults and families. What will you do to raise awareness around homelessness on World Homeless Day this year? Check out the World Homeless Day website for some innovative ideas for how you can get involved.