It’s like my own private house… it means I’m not going to get wet; it means bugs aren’t gonna eat me alive. It means a lot, it’s like someone actually cares. — Karl
For Karl, like so many others who are forced to sleep on the streets, homelessness goes well beyond the loss of physical shelter. It uproots and displaces families. It impacts people’s dignity, security, and their human rights.
“It’s about dignity, mate — and safety,’’ said Simon, a former electrician who was broke and homeless for 3.5 years after an accident at work. Simon trialed the original Backpack Bed. “You’re not out in the open with a piece of cardboard and a blanket, where everyone can see you” he said. “At least with this, you can go to a park or down the beach, away from the predators and all that. In the daytime, it rolls up and you just look like you’re carrying a bag.’’
Homelessness is a global crisis. It affects people from all walks of life in both developed and developing countries, threatening the health and life of people experiencing it. UN Habitat estimates the number of homeless to be over 150 million, with another 1.6 billion living in inadequate housing conditions worldwide.
While a single life event (natural disaster, conflict, job loss, domestic violence) may be the initial trigger, the causes of homelessness are diverse and are often driven by economic and social factors, such as poverty and lack of access to housing, education, health care and decent work.