Briefing “Home at Last?

ANNOUNCEMENT – Briefing “Home at Last? The State of the Homeless in Today’s Cities” – Thursday, 7 October 2010 – 10:15 a.m. –
DPI/NGO Relations invites you to the
“Home at Last? The State of the Homeless in Today’s Cities”
(In Observance of World Habitat Day – 4 October)

Date: Thursday, 7 October 2010
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Location: Conference Room 7, North Lawn Building (NLB)
Background Information

Accurate figures on the global scale of homelessness are especially unavailable and underestimated, partly because it is difficult to pinpoint exact numbers of homeless people who have no address or contact information. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme [UN-HABITAT] estimates that 1.1 billion people live in inadequate housing conditions in urban areas alone, while an estimated 100 million have no housing whatsoever.

In the United States, one of the wealthier developed countries, according to a 2007 study by the U.S. National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, some 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year. Children make up 23% of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, and 42% of those children are under 5 years old.

In many cities of developing countries, more than half of the population lives in informal settlements, without security of tenure and in conditions that can be described as life and health threatening. According to UN-HABITAT, India has lifted 59.7 million people out of slum conditions since the year 2000, but slum dwellers still make up 28.1% of India’s population today.

Although there is currently no global definition for homelessness and legal definitions vary from country to country, the element common to all homeless persons is lack of a stable residence to call home.

The UN-HABITAT publication, The State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011: Bridging the Urban Divide, notes that in the past decade, “over 200 million people in the developing world will have been lifted out of slum conditions.” However, in the course of the same time frame, the number of people living in slums has increased by 6 million each year.  Based on these trends, this is the time to pay close attention to the issue of homelessness.

Adequate housing is recognised by the United Nations as a basic human right. Rights-based housing strategies have thus been developed, urging governments to combat, reduce and eradicate homelessness. There is little doubt that the best way to combat homelessness is to avoid people becoming homeless in the first place. This cannot happen if mass evictions continue to take place in cities alongside the development of expensive housing for ever growing middle classes.

Homelessness is an issue that affects both developing countries and nations with advanced economies. As we commemorate World Habitat Day, let us consider how to bridge the urban divide to build better cities and a better life for all.


All Briefings begin promptly at 10:15 a.m. and we ask that our audience be seated by 10:00 a.m. sharp.

Moderator: María Luisa Chávez; Chief, NGO Relations, Department of Public Information (DPI)


Ms. Yamina Djacta, Deputy Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Ms. Carol Caton, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences (in Psychiatry) and Director, Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies, Columbia University

Mr. Bill Motsavage, Vice President, Independent Living Services, Valley Youth House

Ms. Serena Copeland, Youth Representative, Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board
United Nations, DPI/NGO Relations Cluster, Room S-1070 J
Tel: (917) 367-9380 / (212) 963 7709  Fax: (212) 963-6914  E-mail:
The venue for the weekly Briefings will be provided as soon as the information is available.  United Nations-produced videos relevant to the theme of the Briefing are sometimes screened during the session.  For Briefing information please call the DPI/NGO Resource Centre at +1-212-963-7232 / 7233 / 7234 or e-mail  To receive the Briefing information electronically, please email  You may also visit the DPI/NGO Relations Cluster website at, where archived web casts and audio (both, when available) of the Briefing may also be accessed


Courtesy : Behram Pastakia

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