What we do / Housing Programs

Housing the Homeless

The homeless network in Thailand links city-based networks of homeless people in three cities, so far.  For many years, the network has been supported by the Bangkok-based NGO Human Settlements Foundation (HSF) and the Four Regions Slum Network.  Since 2003, HSF and the homeless network have been making surveys of homeless people.  In their most recent survey, they counted 1,093 homeless people in Bangkok, 136 in Chiang Mai and 166 in Khon Kaen.  Without a secure place to live, bathe or cook, and without ID cards, these most vulnerable of all Thailand’s poor find themselves shut out of most government welfare and health-care programs and face many dangers:  being raped, robbed, beaten-up, chased by the police and forced to sleep in the rain.

In 2007, the Bangkok homeless network designed and built its own homeless shelter in Bangkok’s Taling Chan District, with support from the Baan Mankong Program, in collaboration with CODI, the State Railways Authority, the Bangkok Municipal Government, Human Settlements Foundation, the Four Regions Slum Network and the local community network.  The two-story shelter made history in several ways, and represented a sharp departure from government-managed homeless shelters.  This was the first shelter that was designed and run completely by homeless people themselves, with their own rules and their own set of support programs, including a savings group, a kitchen garden and income generation projects that made use of recycled materials many of the residents collected.  The shelter also represented a new co-production strategy for addressing problems of homelessness, in which the government provides the land and finances the construction, and the homeless people design and run the shelter, making their own rules and regulations, according to the real needs of the residents, with support from CODI and their partner NGOs and other community networks.

Now, inspired by the success of the Taling Chan shelter and two others that followed in other parts of Bangkok, as well as the homeless network’s campaigns and joint community movement, the Thai government has allocated a budget of 118.6 million baht (US$ 3.1 million) to support similarly collaborative, self-managed homeless shelters in Thailand’s three largest cities – Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.  Land for the new shelters has been acquired in Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai and the new homeless shelter in Chiang Mai was inaugurated by the Minister of Social Development and Human Security on June 28, 2018.  Meanwhile, the first batch of twelve pioneering families from the Bangkok homeless shelter in Taling Chan has taken the big step of moving into the country’s first-ever permanent housing project that is being designed and built by (formerly) homeless people themselves, on land leased inexpensively from the State Railways Authority, with soft housing loans from CODI.

Networks of homeless people in three cities plan, develop and manage their own secure shelter strategies