In a city that has more than 5000 homeless people, only 7 shelters are working currently, at half their intended capacity.
Bangalore city has a population of around 2 crores but only 7 working shelter homes. The Supreme Court order says it is mandatory to have 1 shelter for every one lakh people, which means Bangalore should have at least 200 shelters.
In July, the High court directed the BBMP to set up 40 more shelters for the homeless in three months. But the current shelters are not running at capacity even though a survey by Impact India identified more than 5000 homeless people in the city.
Lack of motivation and the fear of getting bound by the rules resist these homeless people to seek help. Umesh M manager of Upparpete shelter home said, “Now 73 enrolled but only 50 living, actually we have 80 capacities. People fear to come here or sometimes these people are addicted to drugs.” Sowjanya N who is working as a caretaker at Upparpete Shelter home for the last 6 years said, “They need freedom, here we have rules and regulations such as early morning they have to go to for work and before 10 pm they should be inside and we don’t let them do any substance abuse.”
The shelter home let inmates stay for only three months. Within these three months, they are rehabilitated back to their home or they are asked to find a job to take care of themselves.
Rohit Kumar who is residing in a shelter home for the last two months said, “People who can only read Kannada can only come to this place. I randomly found an uncle who told me about this place.” The lack of awareness programs by the government is one of the main reasons behind these shelters working on less than half of their capacity.
Of these 7 shelter homes, only 2 are for women. Krishnapa, the Community Organizer of the Welfare Department, said, “No women; all are men’s shelters. I think in Murphy town they have one women shelter.” Sowjanya the caretaker of Upparpete shelter home also said, “Women are abused on the streets. The children who live in this condition, continue to live the same pattern of life and it becomes a vicious circle.”
4 months in a row of BBMP promising to build more shelters nothing has been done yet. Krishnappa community organizer of the Welfare Department said, “We are in progress. We are searching for buildings and vacant lands for constructing new shelters.”
With the High Court’s new order of building more shelters in the city within the next three months, the accessibility and the awareness about the existing shelters still remains a big question.