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Homelessness, those who do not live in a regular residence due to lack of adequate housing, safety, and availability, is a major issue in India. There are 1.77 million homeless people in India, or 0.15% of the country's total population, according to the 2011 census consisting of single men, women, mothers, the elderly, and the disabled.
However, it is argued that the numbers are far greater than accounted by the point in time method. For example, while the Census of 2011 counted 46.724 homeless individuals in Delhi, the Indo-Global Social Service Society counted them to be 88,410, and another organization called the Delhi Development Authority counted them to be 150,000.
Homelessness is in part a direct result of families migrating from rural to urban cities. Migration to urban areas can occur for a variety of reasons ranging from loss of land, need for sustainable employment, lack of clean water and other resources, and in some cases like the Bargi Dam Project, loss of all property and complete displacement. Once reaching cities, the homeless attempt to create shelters out of tin, cardboard, wood, and plastic. Slums can provide an escape, yet individuals often cannot afford them. Homeless individuals may experience abuse, maltreatment, and lack of access to schools and healthcare. Some other problems leading to homelessness include disability (either mental, physical, or both), lack of affordable housing, unemployment (either seasonal or through economic hardships), and changes in the industry.
One challenge the homeless face is the inaccessibility to shelters. Although shelters are available for the homeless in certain cities, many homeless people choose to not utilize them and live on the streets instead due to various different reasons. One reason is that homeless individuals who are affected by mobility issues cannot access them and are unsure about how shelters function. Another challenge faced by the homeless is exposure to extreme weather in summer and winter. A study found that between January 2005 and December 2009, seven homeless individuals passed away every day in Delhi. Their deaths were not recorded by the police and they also did not receive a funeral. Homeless people also suffer from bad health and extremely limited access to medical facilities.