“Homeless are those who sleep under a mere plastic/tin sheet roof or without roofing (even if it’s for a few months of the year) in parks, railway stations, under Flyovers, on pavements, vacant sites (private/public), in front of temples, mosques, churches etc.”
Homelessness is a common phenomenon across the world and almost every major city in the world has its share of citizens who are homeless for various reasons. Bengaluru (Bangalore) is no different. However, there was very little data about the homeless in Bangalore before 2010. While the Census of 1991 estimated that there were 10,654 homeless people in Bangalore; Census of 2001 put the number at 12,014. One study by The BRIDGE network in Bangalore in 2006 indicated that there were at the least 86,266 homeless people in Bangalore, however, records or details of the survey could not be found.
The first interventions for the Homeless in Bengaluru started in the year in 2010 with a survey of people without homes by the Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) along with 29 Bengaluru based NGO partners.
The first survey of Urban Homeless (UH) involved around 191 investigators. 198 wards of Bengaluru were distributed to 29 NGOs. Small teams of 4-5 surveyors continuously scanned each of the wards over a period of three nights between 10 pm to 3 am. The survey counted about 16,345 UH and this data was submitted to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bengaluru’s Urban Local Body (ULB). In depth interviews were also conducted with about 2000 UH. Based on this survey and interviews, an action research study titled “Invisible City makers” was published on the status of Urban homeless in city of Bengaluru.
During 2010 & 2011, various Supreme Court judgments/ orders were passed on Public Interest Litigations (PIL) related to the Urban Homeless issue. As per Hono’ble court orders, ULBs/state government were instructed to construct at least one homeless shelter for every one lakh population. The order emphasised that for every one lakh urban population, facilities for shelter and allied amenities must be provided for at least one hundred homeless persons and the shelters were to remain open 24 hours a day across the year.
The work on Homeless got revived in 2018 with entry of three key stakeholders viz.,
Much work goes in to the Making and Keeping of a City. Hands in the building and maintenance of a city are by and large migrant workers from less developed areas and the disadvantaged sections living in the city. This is why we address them as ‘The Invisible City Makers’.