SEATTLE, Washington — When addressing global poverty, many people focus on issues such as a lack of water, food and healthcare; however, homelessness is just as critical. China, South Korea and Thailand are working to provide for their respective communities to decrease their homeless population. The challenge of homelessness in Asia does not have a simple solution. Here are three examples of how governments are addressing the issue.
South Korea’s Approach
The government of South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare addresses the concerns relating to its homeless population. A study conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul Welfare Foundation and the Seoul Association of Institutes for the Homeless recognized a few statistics regarding this specific population. Many of the homeless people in the nation’s capital are around 55 years old.
There are almost 3,500 homeless people living in Seoul. That includes people living in shelters and those on the street. The city established a plan to decrease the homeless population by 30 percent by the year 2023 by providing low-cost housing and increasing jobs in the public sectors. Since South Korea’s homeless population has decreased since 2013, some of the steps being taken are working.
China’s Move to Eradicate Homelessness
China is the largest country in the world and has the highest population. This makes it all the more ambitious for it to have had a goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2020. However, China has been attempting to achieve this goal by relocating 30 million people in rural areas to urban areas. Even as the solution is in progress, it is already raising concerns.
Before moving to the cities, people could grow their food on their private land. Now, they have to go to grocery stores to buy food. To pay for food, water and healthcare, many are driven to find jobs, but they lack the qualifications. Aside from finding a job, they must familiarize themselves with the advancements of urbanization. Both of these issues have been more difficult for older populations.
Thailand’s Success in Fighting Homelessness
Thailand’s homeless population makes up less than 1 percent of the total population. The Human Set Foundation is focused on providing housing for the homeless. This Thai organization encourages its occupants to be driven to live independently while teaching them how to achieve it. As consumers visit the center more frequently, they are incentivized to work towards better accommodations.
These incentives are incurred on a day-to-day or even up to a yearly basis. Guests are also responsible for taking up responsibilities around the house. This is all done in an effort to acclimate the homeless population to living a productive and self-sufficient lifestyle, free of support. Because of the homeless population is so small compared to the country’s overall population, the challenge of homelessness appears best suited when the resources available outnumber those who are in need of them.
It is essential to consider the challenge of homelessness when looking into ways to fight poverty. With each of these countries having outlier characteristics such as size, region or economic strength, it is hard to say if one solution would work in all three countries. In South Korea, the population has been decreasing with the solution of providing low-income housing and increasing jobs. China has had more problems addressing the issue, but this could also be a result of the size of its population. Thailand’s practice of creating self-motivation while providing shelters for its homeless has proven the most successful so far.
– Kimberly Debnam and Jenna Chrol