An article published in Times of India earlier this week announced that though the majority of people living in UN-surveyed cities possess tenancy documents of some type, many still fear forced eviction from their homes. The article referenced the UN Millennium Development Goals of 2012, which claimed that the most obvious violation of housing rights faced by the urban poor today is eviction without due legal process.
Forced eviction is the first of countless problems that the poor will face as they struggle to find safe and sanitary housing alternatives. Poor communities may not get resettled into permanent housing locations for months following evictions. After being evicted family breadwinners often cannot continue with their jobs, either because long commutes to work prevent them from living out their previous livelihoods or because the market and commerce districts of their old communities disappear along with their old homes. The poor may face problems of sanitation and safety when they released into the streets without homes to return to. Children often cannot continue with school once uprooted. The knock-on consequences of eviction go on and on and on. . .
Many people conceive of urban development as the modernization and expansion of facilities. Better sewage systems, bigger malls, new sports complexes, expanded airports, reliable power lines, luxury condominiums –all of these improvements within a city can serve as emblems of urban progress. But in most big cities, these facility improvements come at the cost of relocating people who live informally in slums and on the pavements. Expansion does not occur without the opportunity cost of poor peoples’ futures.
Development in its purest form extends beyond the elite classes. When contemplating human development and progress, we must assume a more holistic view. Uplifting the circumstances of the poorest of the poor will enhance the economy, education, health, standards of living–sectors that endure beyond the momentary gratification of glitzy buildings and material prowess. When considering worthwhile approaches to development, we must seek solutions that can reach all sectors of society at once. Only through united and democratic progress can we achieve the momentum necessary to cave urban issues.