One of the main issues in Nigeria today is homelessness. In every neighborhood across the country, housing is crucial to the welfare of families and children. Stable housing is essential for the healthy development of children and young people. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable accommodation has led to an increase in the number of homeless families with kids in recent years. In addition, the current economic downturn and housing crisis make it more likely for children and young people to become homeless. On any given night, more than 500,000 people are homeless in the richest country on the planet. Federal, state, and municipal governments must make investments in tested solutions at the local level to permanently end homelessness.
Do you know that there are 108 million homeless people in Nigeria who need special care? According to observations, the majority of them are dispersed randomly throughout the country’s urban centers. They lack access to defined sources of income, pronounced shelters, and healthcare resources.
On the other hand, there are numerous types of homelessness. Speak (2004) divided homelessness in developing nations, including Nigeria, into categories based on how much the homeless individuals would choose to improve their situation given the chance. As a result, the following categories were found:
Homelessness can fall into two categories:
i. Supplementation homelessness: which is intentional, deliberate, and short-term in nature with the goal of returning to a regular position.
ii. Survival homelessness: in which the affected individuals accept the circumstance.
iii. Absolute homelessness: or those who sleep on the streets without any other option.
Every third Wednesday in April, which falls on April 19 this year, is designated as Youth Homelessness Matters Day. This is designated to draw attention to this problem, and encourage public discussion of homeless young people so that lasting and creative solutions can be found to meet their needs and realize their ambitions. The goal of Youth Homelessness Matters Day (Y.H.M.D.) is to increase public awareness of youth homelessness among the general public and decision-makers. It has been observed annually since 1990 on the third Wednesday in April or in the middle of Youth Week.
According to reports, as many as one in six young people may have gone through some form of homelessness. There are lots of young people who sleep with their families in automobiles, sofa surfing, or in shelters out of sight. These young people typically don’t have homes since they are fleeing conflict, violence, and broken families. The main reason for their homelessness is extreme overpopulation. Many of these young people consequently acquire drug addictions and mental health issues.
WHAT CAUSES HOMELESSNESS?
Housing poverty and homelessness are crises that call for immediate federal, state, and municipal action in many places. People primarily become homeless because they are unable to locate homes at an affordable price. Even the strongest efforts to prevent homelessness would be ineffective unless we resolve the issue of affordable housing for Nigeria’s poorest households.
There are more elements that cause homelessness; such as social injustice, domestic violence, and chronic health.
CONSEQUENCES OF HOMELESSNESS:
1) Lack of Positive Social Support: Unaccompanied teenagers and homeless families frequently have limited or unstable social supports. According to research, they have fewer social networks and less social support. Even homeless families who have broader social networks do not view these networks as sources of helpful support or as a foundation for enduring connections. Youths who are alone are prone to mention family issues. Additionally, they try to replace their broken family networks with street networks, and tend to describe their peers as a source of support more often than their own parents.
2) Behavioral Health: Young people who have behavioral health issues are more likely to run away from home or end up homeless. Children and teenagers who are homeless are more likely to experience violence or trauma which may contribute to mental health issues. Compared to housed adolescents, unaccompanied youth are more likely to experience depression, mental health issues, or drug misuse issues. While runaways and homelessness have an impact on mental health, young people who have experienced homelessness have greater behavioral issues before they run away or become homeless than young people who have never experienced either.
3) Participation in the Child Welfare System: Youths in foster care are more likely to become homeless. Youths in foster care report having run away from home 49% of the time. Indian-American youths in comparison to their white peers, and children in foster care are twice as likely to flee. According to earlier studies, foster adolescents who experienced homelessness ranged from 14 to 50 percent.
SOLUTIONS TO YOUTH HOMELESSNESS:
1) Affordable and accessible housing with social services to assist people in overcoming other obstacles, is the major solution to homelessness. Our society needs to considerably increase efforts to lower housing costs for those with the lowest incomes if it is to end homelessness nationwide.
In particular, decision-makers should:
• Build and preserve homes that are truly cheap: Through the national Housing Trust Fund, significant funding must be allocated to building homes that are affordable to those with the lowest incomes if the affordable housing crisis is to be resolved. The acute dearth of cheap rental homes for America’s lowest-income households—the only population group for whom there is an absolute shortage of affordable and available dwellings—is the root cause of the affordable housing issue. While the private sector cannot function independently, the federal government must assume a leading role in order to construct or maintain homes at a cost these families can afford. Additionally, the government should protect the nation’s current infrastructure for affordable housing, especially public housing.
• Offer aid with rent: Only one in four families receive the housing aid they require due to persistent underfunding, despite the widening gap between wages and housing costs. To assist families save more of their money for other necessities like food, medicine, education, and transportation, policymakers should advocate for a significant expansion of Housing Choice Vouchers and/or the development of a targeted renters’ tax credit.
• Preventing evictions and homelessness for families: The nation needs a new national program, the National Housing Stabilization Fund. This would help to aid in preventing evictions and, in the worst situations, homelessness. For households dealing with unanticipated economic shocks (such as lost work hours, unpaid medical costs, or a broken-down car), a program could offer short-term cash assistance to help afford rent.
• Prevent abuse and discrimination against tenants: Policymakers should support a wide range of renter protections, such as federal legislation to outlaw discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and source of income. They should also strictly reinforce already-existing fair housing laws which include obligations on the local and state government to actively promote fair housing and a national right to counsel for renters facing eviction. This can be supported by the federal government as well.