Georgia’s squatters remain and grow as the government overlooks the most poverty-stricken people living homeless on the streets.
Georgia’s pressing issue of homelessness has only grown since the war with Russia in 2008. According to reports by the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), the government left approximately 10,000 homeless families to inhabit the 401 abandoned buildings of Tbilisi. As the devastating numbers only grow, there is no accurate statistical data on the current number of homeless sufferers.
It is crucial to understand the broader meaning of homelessness. Apart from the lack of housing, it is the lack of people’s social and legal exposure. It is about social exclusion that hinders people’s access to social services and employment, creating a vicious cycle of poverty. Therefore, programs designed to solely satisfy the physical need of housing serve as temporary solutions to Georgia’ growing issue. This encourages exploitation, inequality, and vulnerabilities of the homeless society.
The European Typology on Homelessness and Housing Exclusion, classifies the degree of homelessness into seven categories. They define “Rooflessness” as the lack of housing, in addition to legal and social insufficiency. It is the most common form found in the Georgian society.
Typically, the government leaves homeless individuals with two options- live on the streets or inhabit abandoned buildings. Both are equally unfortunate. Tbilisi’s Cardiological Institute serves as one of the common squatter locations. There, the lack of appropriate thermal installations and sewage systems present unacceptable living conditions. Fortunately, prior to this month’s Georgian parliamentary elections, authorities promised the provision of electricity in the inhabited building. However, that only serves as a temporary bypass from the remaining problem- the homeless still remain homeless.
Even though the Tbilisi municipality provided a shelter facility in December 2015 called the Lilo Shelter program, the state has removed the provisioned tents for the homeless. The new facility was provided outside of the urban area which robs the homeless of employment opportunities and participation in society. Additionally, residence in the shelter requires the people to abide by certain housing rules discouraging dwellers from utilizing their services and trapping them in their circumstances.
Furthermore, there have financial aid programs providing allowances to impoverished families in Tbilisi. However, the allowances are minuscule and inflexible to the families size and circumstances. The reason behind this is the presumption that the homeless are self-sufficient and the need for the financial aid will subside. However, assuming that the cycle of poverty will break through self-sufficiency is a reflection of the government’s lack of attention to important issues. The Georgian government needs to amplify their efforts to resolve the squatters and implement human rights onto the suffering, homeless people.
The Georgian government needs to amplify their efforts and implement human rights onto the sufferers. They need to develop programs focusing on providing sustainable solutions with long-term benefits.