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Public Policy on Homelessness (part of the "Bogotá Humana" plan)

Bogotá
Colombia

People living in the street -due to multiple phenomena of marginalization and/or self-marginalization from social and family networks- represent one of the largest categories of marginalized people. There are six main obstacles that hinder the exercise of human rights, to wit:

1.   no social and legal recognition of people living in the streets as subjects of rights on equal footing with the rest of the citizens;

2.   criminalization, stigmatization, discrimination and violence from the state and citizens in general to these sectors, preventing them from having a proper and timely access to health services, even emergency medical services;

3.   no positive social networks, identification or official documents and a permanent address, which restricts or prevents their access to livelihood opportunities, employment and social programmes;

4.   a handout/patronizing mentality for actions and programmes based on "protective discrimination", treating these people as subjects of protection, victims or potential criminals, affecting, without limitation, their rights to integrity, freedom and personal security and safety;

5.   lack of or insufficient policies to prevent the source of homelessness, as well as coordinated and consensus-based integrated, cross-sector and multifactorial strategies and programmes;

6.   contempt for or limitations to their presence in the policies to build public spaces and maintain “terrains vagues” (viaducts, parks, bridges, railway land, etc.).

The District Administration of Bogota anticipated some of the measures established under the national regulatory framework: it has created the District Institute to Protect Childhood and Young Age (IDIPRÓN) and in 1995 it established the Integrated Programme for the Protection of Indigent People and Social Security, as regulated, which prompted the District Program for the Care of People Living in the Street. Back in 2003, after "El Cartucho" (main concentration spot of people living in the street in Bogota) was demolished to make room for the Third Millennium Park, Agreement No. 79/2003 ("Bogota CD Police Code") set forth that people living in the street "will receive special protection and care by the District Administration". A Permanent Panel for the Plan for the Integrated Care of People Living in the Street (PAICHC) was then established as a cross‑institution coordination space to coordinate and monitor the Integrated Care Plan and public policy with a “rights approach”.

Since 2012, within the framework of the Bogotá Humana District Development Plan (2012‑2015) and, specifically, as part of its Pillar 1 ("A city that overcomes segregation and discrimination. The human being at the centre of development concerns”), the District Secretariat for Social Integration of Bogota (SDIS) has been implementing the Project “Capacity-Building to develop people engaged in prostitution or living in the street" which was later formalized under the "District Public Policy on Homelessness” (PPDFHC). This policy includes an urban component (“Inclusive Urban Development"), which provides for the Urban Renovation of the City's Historic Centre and includes the area known as “The Bronx” (in deep social and urban decay), so as to improve the living conditions and restore the rights of citizens living in the street. At the same time, some security and coexistence issues linked to Homelessness were incorporated into the Integrated Citizen Coexistence and Safety Plan for Bogota C.D., 2013-2023, with a human safety and security approach.