In its opening phases, GIDIFA, under the guidance and leadership of the Honorable Angel Ferdinand Marcos, will be building over seven million homes in the Philippines alone. There may be some misconceptions that just any old house would do for any individual or family when they are homeless, indigent or otherwise part of the underclasses of the citizenry to begin with. Conversely, there may be an equal number of misconceptions when homes that are built primarily for the benefit of the homeless, indigent and other underclass citizens are left empty because the homeless people do not want to live in them. Like so many discussions, there seem to be a great many “radical experts” on both sides who, despite not knowing all of the relevant facts, stand ready to accuse and even to judge those who need help and a little bit of understanding more than anything. Unfortunately, when you do have such radicals on both sides, any attempt at discussion rapidly descends into nothing more than a bout of cussin' with no room left for actual and productive discussion. Safe and secure housing is about much more than tossing up a cheap house and expecting the families … even the homeless and indigent, from just jumping right in and making it a home. There are a great many factors to safe and secure housing far beyond the mere construction materials and technologies.
Construction is certainly important. Here in the Philippines, the “Nipa Hut” is very common, though the description is incomplete at best. Some will be made out of plywood, some will be made out of strips of bamboo and some may even be made with hollow blocks … or the local version of cinder blocks … though … while … better … are not exactly prime construction materials. The nipa hut will often leak or trap water within the roofing that prevents the house from ever being truly secure … and rarely safe in the event of natural disasters. Construction materials utilized by GIDIFA and in the GIDIFA sponsored projects include a vast array of innovative methods and materials including resin-based materials, materials made from waste re utilization and even some of the same methods and materials from the Suez and Panama Canals and the Great Pyramids and ancient Roman technologies. The houses being built by GIDIFA utilize a great variety of innovative, state-of-the-art construction materials and techniques but safe and secure housing, as noted above, is about much more than just the construction of the home.
There are numerous semi-abandoned high-rise apartment dwellings in and around the Metro Manila area. Much of this housing was originally built specifically for the Underclass Citizens but remains largely unused while Metro Manila, arguably, has one of the highest populations of homeless people in the world at the time of this writing. The standards of the housing is on par with the local area and there is effectively nothing wrong with these apartments. They are by all definitions, safe and secure housing units designed for the homeless, indigent and other underclass citizens … but there is one major problem. Apparently, nobody took the time to actually talk to the underclass and define their needs before the construction phase was implemented. That is not to say that each and every one of these individuals and families should have a luxury home automatically granted to them, but there are needs and considerations which must be closely examined before any project of this nature can be successfully implemented.
A great many of the homeless and other indigent people lack formal education. While this may be a separate subject meriting other considerations, it is extremely relevant to the problems still being noted even after so much time and money has already been (wastefully and pointlessly) thrown at the problem. An adaptive, systemic approach is necessary in all aspects of the global eradication of poverty. One cannot merely address the problems and reasonably believe that the underlying causes will just magically disappear. Education is expensive and in most cases, a mandatory requirement for even the most basic of “real jobs”. In short, the vast majority of the homeless, indigent and other underclass citizens are not even eligible to go to work for most established companies, even if they do have the requisite skills. As such, it has been necessary for a great many of them to ply their trades on a much smaller scale while supplementing their income in any other way that they can. In some cases, a small “Sari Sari” store may be the solution but in most cases, lacking the necessary operating capital, they have to resort to junk and refuse (garbage) collection and other means of literally scavenging whatever they are able to find. Not only does this greatly reduce the opportunities for the underclass citizens, but if negatively impacts society as a whole through increased costs for social assistance and a greatly reduced tax revenue base to support those programs. All of these factors (along with a great many others) have to be taken into consideration before any such projects can be successfully implemented.
Given the fact that many of the homeless and indigent have no way to make a living other than picking up garbage and getting whatever side work they are able to in and around their neighborhood or Barangay, it is going to be virtually impossible for them to make any kind of living whatsoever if they are living in a high-rise apartment unit. In short, living in such quarters would effectively eliminate any way they have to earn any outside income to support their families. The arguments may continue about whether or not the social assistance programs are enough to fully support the families, but it seems fair and reasonable to say that most people have a strong desire to support their families in any way they can. Taking away any means they have to earn any extra income is not conducive to getting them to accept the assistance being provided. Safe and Secure housing for the homeless and indigent in the Philippines and around the world must take their personal needs into consideration if these programs are to be successful … but that is still not enough if what has become generational welfare assistance is to be done away with in all but the most extreme cases where there are no other alternatives.
Many of the families suffering in impoverished conditions today have been in the same predicament for multiple generations. It is foolish and naive to believe that they can just be provided with adequate housing and all of their problems will disappear. There must be a complete, systemic and adaptive approach that tackles the root causes of the problem while at the same time providing the necessary tools and assistance to finally break free from the chains of poverty. Even when the issues that were previously addressed are adequately taken care of, there is still going to be an urgent need for assistance and to help the formerly underclass citizens to fully integrate and become functional, contributing members of society.
Psychology and psychiatry both have their place and their measures of success but both rely more on a selective art form of interpretation than they do on any tangible evidence or hard sciences. Sociological Studies and programs that provide for a certain amount of psychology in regards to human nature and even the occasional (albeit very rare and selective) application of medicinal psychiatry seems a much more viable approach. Given the integrated nature of the systemic, adaptive and integrated approach, there is another consideration that seems not to be addressed much at all in the current efforts to assist the impoverished peoples of the world. The stigma that is often associated with living on “the wrong side of the tracks” or over on “that side of town” has done more to hurt the underclass citizens than it ever can to help them.
The poor side of town, no matter what it may be called, is not an ideal location for the individual in any community, much less a favorable place to raise a family. All too often the schools are lacking, the infrastructure is questionable at best and some of the nightlife is more than just detrimental to a healthy, family environment. The social stigma of such locations even goes through to the society as a whole, leaving job applications in doubt merely because of the physical address, or leading to a prejudice, conscious or otherwise, against the people who have no choice but to live in such environs. This is further exacerbated by the fact that once given these homes, there is very little accountability regarding the responsibilities that come with the privileges and even less accountability as any effort to enforce any level of accountability is seen socially as an attack on the poor people. As a result, the homes that they are given have no real value. (As these homes are “free” in the eyes of the people that live in them and often rundown and in ramshackle condition from the very start, and since there is often no work or other requirements for the use of these homes, they do not even have a perceived value)
Perhaps even worse still, is the fact that so many people with so many debilitating conditions are all gathered together without any viable means of support to help them past any personal issues they may have that further contribute to their desperation and inability to break free of the chains of poverty. It is much more than foolish to believe that you can place a group of people addicted to alcohol or drugs or other similar problems all together without any support and expect they are going to do anything other than pursue their vices and find a means to get their next “fix”. The end result is a cyclic decline in living conditions, perceived value of life and a continuation of the very same problems that impoverished these people in the first place. Is it possible however, to integrate “these people” into “normal society” without dragging the entire society down to that level?
If there were some requirements for utilization of the homes, some form of personal ownership available to these people, some sort of viable, meaningful training and assistance and the level of support made available as part of these conditions, could the impoverished become productive, contributing members of society? Moreover, can they actually be integrated into housing in urban centers rather than cast off to the side? The solution is not as simple as it seems in some cultures. In some cultures and some societies, people tend to congregate among “their own kind” whatever that may be translated to. Drug addicts tend to associate more with other drug addicts, lawyers tend to associate more with other lawyers. It is a challenge but one that must be addressed if these programs are to be successful. In the adaptive, integrated development communities there is a certain benefit in regards to this particular issue.
Ideally, the formerly indigent and underclass citizens will comprise roughly ten to fifteen percent of the local population in any given community … at least according to all of the data and research given by the Sociologists. However, in the early stages of community development, as the actual infrastructure and basic community needs are established, the actual percentage will be substantially higher. This is due to the fact that in the opening phases, the people building the basic community infrastructure will be experts in their respective fields, a select few experienced technicians and workers and additional trainees from among the ranks of the (formerly) underclass population. These first families, will, by virtue of their position as being among the first, be able to select where they wish to live and will be building their own homes and communities.
As the community infrastructure and local industry increases, as the “normal people” are moving in to the community, they are moving into the areas already built by and housing the formerly underclass citizens. Not only will their be no social stigma attached to the formerly underclass citizens based on mere geographical points on a map, but they will have built and taken pride in their own work especially as the “normal” people move into the community. The added value of having earned everything that they have will help to greatly increase their personal levels of pride, accomplishment and their sense of belonging to a larger, active community and becoming and remaining productive and contributing members of that society. As these projects are approved by the Honorable Angel Ferdinand Marcos and funded through GIDIFA, poverty will suffer its first crushing defeat. As the programs continue and expand, poverty will ultimately be fully and finally eradicated from this world which we all must share together.