Homelessness is the most visible and severe symptom of the lack of adequate housing. In 2005, the UN estimated that about 100 million people around the world had no place to live, and more than one billion were improperly sheltered.

There is no single cause that leads to homelessness. The reasons are multifaceted, including the lack of affordable housing, real estate speculation for investment purposes, unplanned urban migration, and displacement caused by conflicts and natural disasters.

The incapacity of legal systems to protect people against the lack of housing and land is aggravated by a trend of criminalization and violence towards homeless populations.

Countries should develop housing policies targeting the poorest populations, giving priority to agrarian reform, enactment of laws that protect women’s right to housing, the creation of shelters in urban centers, increased funding to low income housing opportunities, and integrated rural development policies to reduce involuntary migration.

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