Homeless Cebuanos, or Filipinos in general, exist. In other parts of the world, in either developed or developing countries, homelessness is a social problem, according to the United Nations.

The UN has described homelessness as a serious violation of human dignity and a global problem, affecting people of all ages from all walks of life. In 2020, it reported that at least 1.6 billion people around the world live in inadequate housing conditions, with about 15 million forcefully evicted every year.

Homelessness, the international body said, violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ Article 1, a portion of which states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It also violated Article 22, which says: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”

A developed country like Denmark has homeless people. Of its nearly six million population, its government reported over 5,000 homeless individuals in 2022.

There are “approximately 4.5 million homeless people, including children, in the Philippines, which has a population of 106 million people,” according to the Borgen Project, a US-based nonprofit organization that tackles global poverty and hunger.

“Homelessness in the Philippines is caused by a variety of reasons, including lost jobs, insufficient income or lack of a stable job, domestic violence and loss of home due to a natural disaster. The government and non-governmental organizations are working to address this issue,” read a portion of the Borgen Project’s report.

Cebu City has its homeless people. They are visible by the naked eyes—they roam the streets, shelter in skywalks or shacks put up on vacant lots, and sleep on pavements, abandoned police outposts and decrepit buildings.

At the beginning of his term on June 30, 2022, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama announced his “Singapore-like” vision for the city. Some of his moves to achieve his vision include seeking out investments, solving the flooding problem by clearing the waterways and building medium-rise buildings for informal settlers.

It would be good to hear from the mayor what he would do with the homeless people in the city.

Singapore, Mayor Rama’s model city, has homeless people despite its economic stature. There were about 921 to 1,050 homeless residents in 2019, according to the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy study.

The Singaporean government is helping its homeless residents, and one of its ways of helping is by funding shelters and interim rental housing for homeless people to stay before they purchase their own flats from the state agency Housing and Development Board, propertyguru.com.sg reported last year.

In moving towards progress, the City Government must also look behind its back to make sure that its voiceless and roofless residents who live on a day-to-day basis—most of whom survive on their own by scouring garbage bins and begging for food—are not neglected.