11 Numbers You Need to Know About the Global Housing Crisis

October 6, 2011

evictions in zimbabwe
A house being destroyed in Zimbabwe. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s a worldwide housing crisis — and we’re not just talking about foreclosures and the crash of the housing market.  Billions live without adequate housing across the globe, even though housing is a human right.

One of the most widespread and egregious violations is forced eviction — the removal of people against their will from their homes or land without legal protections or safeguards, typically because they live on land desirable to governments or private developers.

Stripped of their own land, they’re often left homeless or moved to remote areas, cutting off their access to clean water and sanitation, food, health care, education and work.

People living in slums and informal settlements are especially vulnerable to forced evictions. And here in the United States, we too fall shamefully short of fulfilling the human right to housing.

Eleven numbers you need to know

More than 1 billion: Number of people living in slums around the world. Globally, this figure is the equivalent of one in every three people who lives in a city.

2 billion: Number of people who will live in slums by 2030, according to U.N. projections.

More than 2 million: Number of people who have been forcibly evicted from their homes across Nigeria, since 2000.

700,000: Number of people who lost their homes, livelihood, or both, in Zimbabwe in 2005 in the mass forced eviction campaign called Operation Murambatsvina (“Operation Drive Out Rubbish”). Survivors largely now live in substandard housing without access to basic services. An estimated 222,000 children had their right to education impacted. Take action on their behalf.

Around 2,000: Number of families that have been forcibly evicted around Boeung Kak Lake, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since 2008. Development company Shukaku Inc. has been clearing the land for construction, and a further 90 families are at immediate risk of forced eviction.

At least 119: Number of people killed in Cairo in September 2008, by a rockslide in Al-Duwayqa, an informal settlement. No action was taken to prevent future incidents. There are approximately 12 million slum dwellers in greater Cairo.

Zero: Number of permanent police stations in Kibera, the biggest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, home to more than one million people. Police do not regularly patrol the area and women are disproportionately subject to sexual violence. Only one in four slum households has access to a toilet, forcing residents to share pit latrines with an average of 50 other people – but often, women are “too scared to pee”.

1.6 million: Number of people in the U.S. who were homeless from October 2009 through September 2010.

Almost 1 million: Number of homeless school children in the U.S. in the 2009-10 school year – up 18% since 2007-8.

77%: Percent of the U.S. public that agrees that adequate housing should be considered a human right.

One: Number of G8 countries that have not ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the main treaty guaranteeing the right to housing. That country is … the United States of America.

Tomorrow, join Amnesty International and two housing rights experts to discuss these and other issues, including forced evictions worldwide, the criminalization of homelessness and the foreclosure crisis here in the United States in our live Facebook chat.