The organisation “Mort sans toi(t)” staged a tribute yesterday afternoon in the square of the common graveyard (La Guillotière, Lyon), in dedication of the homeless who had died between July 2009 to June 2010 alone and on the streets.
Once again, this tribute sparked debate of precarious lifestyles more than 200,000 homeless Frenchmen and women lead on a yearly basis.
What is more, the homeless population is heterogeneous; however they consist predominantly of young males, although young single mothers, immigrants and the sick also constitute of a worrying percentage. Regardless of the fact that nearly one third of this population has a job, they still do not earn enough to find accommodation. The remaining percentage has no employment opportunities since they have no accommodation. The homeless survive from day to day residing in shelters or sleeping outside. They cannot even afford to support a balanced diet, resulting in malnutrition. The lack of health care, hygiene facilities, alcohol dependence and depression are also pressing factors affecting their wellbeing.
All these factors are well known. But who cares anyway? Hopefully, some organisations will try their luck here and there, bring them some food, blankets and above all support, comfort and some warmth.
From this, one question arises : why is it that in “developed” countries such as France and its European counterparts, more than 300 persons die on the streets…in front of all citizens’ eyes?
What is the government doing? The homeless issue is much more complex than the current welfare and other “structures” created, if anything, the current plans are insufficient. Alcohol dependence, poverty, precarious housing, blue collar work and unemployment all play part in this physical insecurity that leads to exclusion of these citizens.
The future of France does not only depends on the awareness of the “real” social make up, but also of valuing the individual in society and in the public sphere.
Winter is coming… An equilibrium needs to be found.