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International emergency

February 01 2024
Why solving homelessness needs to be a priority for politicians across the globe, why it isn't one now – and how it can become one. By Eric Protein Moseley

The World Economic Forum says that globally there were estimated to be at least 150m people experiencing homelessness in 2021 – a figure that has likely risen since. Despite this, there is a lack of concern from those who have been in the political field for a while, as well as those just entering politics, in addressing homelessness as a high priority – let alone making it the most important issue that these politicians should pledge to confront head-on if elected.

If the continuation of the lack of affordable housing is not brought to the forefront among the top objectives for all upcoming political leaders worldwide, can you imagine the magnitude of unhoused individuals that will exist in the world in 20 years?

Why is homelessness not a top concern for voters globally?

Current and future politicians' top concerns suggest that they only focus on the interest of those who cast their votes for a particular legislative and seem uninterested in solving other problems.

Depending on who you ask and in what country you are referring to, crime, immigration, healthcare and education round out the most concerning topics on the list of voters. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans differ over how important it is for political candidates they support to share their traits. For most politicians in office, or running for it, in the US, homelessness is a problem that has been set aside for several years by many of those who have a greater chance of putting unhoused solutions into place than others.

I’m aiming to get the support of the incoming leaders and from those who are already in office through my Mandate Future Politicians to Prioritise Homelessness campaign.

Let's say I am a future politician in any country and I ran my campaign off the slogan that I promise to repair the entire sewerage system throughout the country because of how eroded it had become. Even though the rotting system may have serious effects on many people and continue to cause chronic health issues and other (major) problems people are most concerned about, the public most likely won't vote for that campaign or the person representing it as it doesn’t appeal to the majority of voters or capture their attention.

If I couldn't find enough people to support my cause, then I most likely would have to drop out of the race or jump on the bandwagon and support something more concerning to the voters.

According to Statista, in December 2023 a majority (53%) of British citizens believed that the economy was among the top three issues affecting the nation, while only 44% have come to believe that health was among the top three issues. One of the primary concerns of Britons in 2023 was undoubtedly the ever-present cost-of-living crisis that the UK is experiencing due to excessive inflation. All the roads mentioned above can lead to someone becoming unhoused, but somehow this situation is still not a top priority for communities around the world.

What needs to change?

Regardless of their status, politicians are public servants and are only put into office to handle the main concerns of the people's interests and not so much of what they represent.

So, unless people across the world bring to the attention of politicians that homelessness is not to be brushed under a rug that doesn't even exist, it will continue to receive the political urgency it currently experiences on the voters' agendas.

No disrespect to any other concerns or movement, but let's get our future politicians riled up about how many people are left out on the street or in a shelter, transitional housing or couch surfing.

People all around the world are known to want mainly for two things on earth: having a sustainable amount of income and to live in comfort, within their homes and in the community. That is why it's complicated for any politician to push their agenda if it doesn't strengthen the economy, but they are also known to jump on the bandwagon to support the popular causes, at any given moment.

Let's make homelessness the bandwagon that political leaders need to jump onto worldwide, and make them not only concerned about finding solutions to combating homelessness but also highly concerned about remedying its many causes, or they will not get our support in the near or distant future.

  • Eric Protein Moseley is a Social Impact Documentary Filmmaker and works closely with the homeless community in New York City