Homelessness

A note from the editor

Wayne Ellwood

The meaning of home

I still remember buying our first (and only) house decades ago; pinching ourselves that we’d made such an impossible leap into the financial void.

It was a late autumn afternoon when I slid the key in the lock and tentatively opened the front door for the first time. The rooms were empty and echoing; shadows of past lives seemed to hang in the air.

Then, gradually, that house became our home. We patched and painted the walls and filled the rooms with cast-off furniture. The closets and cupboards were crammed with stuff. And a mountain of memories piled up: babies, birthdays, dinner parties, Christmas mornings, first bicycle rides, play forts in the basement – life.

For me, that’s the core meaning of ‘home’ – it’s bricks-and-mortar, yes. But it’s more than that. It is also shelter wrapped in memory. That sense of security and of belonging is lost when people are homeless. But how do we calculate our loss when we are unable or unwilling to meet the challenge of housing those who have fallen between the cracks?

In the words of the old Phil Ochs’ song: ‘There but for fortune go you or I’.

The idea of home also comes under attack when the physical environment is threatened – as in our feature on the depredations of the sand-miners in Cambodia. And from Nigeria we report on the enormous effort to make the country polio-free.

Wayne Ellwood for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

Stuck on the street: only a quarter of families in the US that qualify receive housing assistance.

Stuck on the street: only a quarter of families in the US that qualify receive housing assistance.

Photo: Nick Beer/Alamy Stock Photo

Finding home

With house prices and rents soaring, can there be a remedy to homelessness? Wayne Ellwood investigates.

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In the sharp glare of spring sunshine the paint on the simple wooden display case is peeled and fading. It is a modest affair, the top angled in the shape of a roof, as if offering final shelter to the men and women whose names are displayed there. Fresh flowers, a solitary act of commemoration, perhaps atonement, have been placed to the side. Eight sheets of paper are pinned under glass, each sheet filled with the names of homeless people who have died – on the street, under bridges, in ravines an...




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