Male’s Homeless Crisis is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The number of homeless people in Male’, the capital city of Maldives has shot up over the last few months.

In a tweet on Monday afternoon, the Gender Ministry announced that they are collaborating with relevant state institutions to provide temporary housing to the people living in the streets in Male’ City as part of their efforts to ascertain the fundamental rights of the homeless and provide them with social security.

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Gender Ministry has appealed for information regarding the homeless in Male’ City to be reported to the helpline 1421.

The Ministry had initiated a program to provide temporary housing to the homeless in Male’ City during the COVID-19 lockdown in April. The decision to resume the program comes amid a rise in the number of people sleeping in the streets of the capital.

However, the people we see lying homeless in the streets are simply just the tip of the iceberg. How did they end up there? What are the obstacles in place to keep them from securing shelter? How have we as a society failed them? These are all questions that we must dare to ask and seek answers to.

One might argue that the root of this societal ill stems from the lack of affordable housing in our capital. Over the years, Male’s rent prices have been steadily increasing to unfathomable figures. As a result, the average Maldivian residing in Male’ often struggles to make ends meet due to the lack of an appropriate living wage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the plight. With so many people out of jobs, suspended, on no-pay leave or reduced salaries, is it really that surprising that more and more are ending up on the streets?

Providing temporary housing to the homeless is a quick and easy short-term solution. However, to make a long lasting impact, appropriate measures need to be taken by the government and its authorities to solve the issue at its root cause.

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