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Eliminating Homelessness/
Housing Humanity

Preferred State:
Adequate housing for 100% of humanity

Problem State:
1 billion people lack adequate shelter/100 million are homeless

Strategy 3: Self-Help Housing

The global neglect of yet another basic need, housing, has only recently become apparent to many in the United States, where homelessness reached disturbing levels in the 1980's-and has unfortunately continued unabated into the 1990's. There are over 500,000 homeless children in the United States.(63) More than 5 million people are homeless in just the wealthy industrialized countries in the world.(64) To much of the world, however, homelessness and inadequate housing have long been widespread problems. Currently, about one billion people lack adequate housing,(65) including roughly 100 million who are completely homeless.(66)

One of the most encouraging approaches to housing shortages has been self-help housing.(67) By providing building materials, tools and training to the homeless and the inadequately housed, self-help programs have been highly successful in offering people the opportunity to build homes to meet their needs. A global effort at self-help housing would offer all of the one billion people in need an unprecedented opportunity to live in adequate housing-and by doing so, many additional problems would be alleviated. For example, "adequate housing is strongly correlated with progress in health, literacy and longevity and with the social stability of communities. Improvements in housing boost material and psychological well-being and health-and thus work productivity and school performance."(68)

Costs/Benefits

The total cost of providing self-help housing to all of the inadequately sheltered and homeless people of the world-primarily in the developing world where the needs are greatest-would cost about $21 billion dollars per year for ten years.(69 )This is 2.6% of the world's total annual military expenditures, 2.1% of illegal drug expenditures or the amount the US spends on golf every 16 months.

Benefits would include an increase in the quality of life for the people with inadequate or no housing, as well as an improvement in the quality of life for the entire community. Better health, more stable communities and better lives for children would also result.

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What the World Wants Chart

Eliminate Starvation and Malnutrition: $19 billion Eliminate Starvation & Malnutrition: $19 billion Provide Health Care and AIDS Control: $21 billion Provide Health Care and AIDS Control: $21 billion Provide Shelter: $21 billion Provide Shelter: $21 billion Provide Clean, Safe Water: $10 billion Elliminate Illiteracy: $5 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Retire Developing Nations Debt: $30 billion Stabilize Population: $10.5 billion Stabilize Population: $10.5 billion Prevent Soil Erosion: $24 billion Prevent Soil Erosion: $24 billion Stop Deforestation: $7 billion Stop Deforestation: $7 billion Stop Ozone Depletion: $5 billion Prevent Acid Rain: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Remove Landmines: $2 billion Refugee Relief: $5 billion Refugee Relief: $5 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Build Democracy: $2 billion
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