Two trends have been largely responsible for homelessness in recent times: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. This article addresses the rate of poverty in the country in relation to housing.
Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets or under the bridge, even on the sea. Go ask the inhabitants of Makoko and erstwhile Maroko.
It’s no longer news that the country suffers from a housing deficit of over 17 million housing units, but what is news is, how many of these people can afford to pay for a roof over their heads when the houses become available? Not too many I guess…
Two factors help account for increasing poverty: eroding employment opportunities for large segments of the workforce and the declining value and availability of public assistance.
Reasons why homelessness persists include stagnant or falling incomes and less secure jobs which offer fewer benefits. The recent economic recession is even not helping matters, and rental price never drops.
Low wage workers have been particularly left behind as the gap between the rich and the poor widens. The 18,000 naira minimum wage only compounds the housing woes of the poor or low-income earners
The minimum wage, in turn, have put housing out of reach for many workers; in major states, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Most Nigerian tenants expend 60 percent of their disposable income on house rent, which means areas such as health care and savings will suffer dearly.
With unemployment rates remaining high, jobs are hard to find in the current economy. Even if people can find work, this does not automatically provide an escape route from poverty.
A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and to homelessness.
The lack of affordable housing has led to high rent burdens (rents which absorb a high proportion of income), overcrowding, and substandard housing. These phenomena, in turn, have not only forced many people to become homeless, they have put a large and growing number of people at risk of becoming homeless.
Housing assistance can make the difference between stable housing, precarious housing, or no housing at all. Particularly within the context of poverty and the lack of affordable housing, certain additional factors may push people into homelessness. Other major factors, which can contribute to homelessness, include the following:
For families and individuals struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction. It’s quite easy for a Nigerian to become homeless you would say
Also, battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness. Most women who go for the former, end up regretting their decision. And for the not too lucky ones, we know where they finally end up; homelessness could have been a better option.
The relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and controversial. While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless population, the increase in homelessness over the past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone. Many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless, but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness.
Addiction does increase the risk of displacement for the precariously housed; in the absence of appropriate treatment, it may doom one’s chances of getting housing once on the streets. Homeless people often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining health care, including addictive disorder treatment services and recovery support
Homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. Only a concerted effort to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness.