In 2000 less than 5% of homeless people found refuge in the MCD night shelters. Therefore we advocated actively to increase the shelters in Delhi by using available spaces which are unused e.g. schools, offices, buildings, etc. Our proposal received acceptance from the court which led to the allotment of two model shelters under AAA in collaboration with MCD. We were also able to increase the number of shelters in Delhi for people sleeping on the streets.
Thousands of homeless who lived under the open sky without any name and address in the capital of India. Through the advocacy initiated in 2003 with the Election Commission of India, we facilitate their right to vote. By this, they became a part of a democratic republic of India. In the year 2004 to date, many of the homeless people received their identity and status of citizenship by claiming and casting their vote.
The first-ever and the biggest forum for the homeless community were organized annually in Delhi, called MahaPanchayat (Homeless assembly). Nearly 10,000 homeless people mobilized to discuss, debate, and demand their rights from the state under the constitution of India. Through sharing people’s voices, we brought their positive narratives to the media and law enforcement agencies. The advocacy crafted at MahaPanchayats translated into the establishment of more than 250 shelters in the city, census involvement, access to healthcare, education, employment, and right to citizenship entitlements. Maha Panchayat has been all about mic passing, which has enabled in bringing homeless to the center from the margins.
Beggary Legal Aid:
AAA aims at reformation of laws adversely affecting the oppressed like the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalized poverty. We provided free legal aid to survivors of beggary law who couldn’t afford to engage a lawyer to protect their rights, particularly the fundamental right to life and liberty. In the course of providing free legal aid, both at Beggar-Court and Appellate Court levels, research and documentation accumulated by AAA were used as valuable data for law reform. Our efforts contributed towards eliminating this draconian law (BPB) from Delhi, India.
The elderly comprise a big proportion of the homeless group. They are the majority of victims of destitution, starvation, and death during extreme weather conditions. They are eligible for protection under the Directive Principles of State Policy, e.g. Article 41 of the Constitution directs the state to provide public assistance to old citizens in form of Pension. We advocated for the Right to Pension by the elderly homeless groups and successfully assisted hundreds of them through social security schemes.
Homeless people are daily wage earners who often earn only enough to feed themselves. While sleeping on the streets they are frequently looted and abused by goons and police. This further demotivates them to save money or work at a better job. In order to help them, we launched ATM banking facilities in partnership with UBI wherein they could deposit money at their local bank and foster financial security AND later towards the opening of saving bank accounts and PAN numbers.
Aadhar Card in 2010 increasingly became the single document to acknowledge one’s identity. Having no permanent address and supporting documents, it was impossible for the homeless groups to register. However, through our continuous advocacy, we were successfully able to register them on account of their street address itself! (for example, street lamp No. 73, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi) Additionally, homeless without any documents were also supported with vaccination without Aadhar in our #RightToVaccineForAll Campaign