Local authorities are downplaying figures recently issued by the Housing Development Authority with regards to Colombo’s homeless.
On Monday (2) Chairman of the Housing Development Authority (HDA) Jayantha Samaraweera announced that 65000 people were homeless in the city.
However an employee at the HDA, Gamini Vithane, said that homelessness was not as prevalent as the figures would suggest. “Many of these people have homes. They have shacks or some kind of temporary housing. So Sri Lanka does not have many homeless people,” Vithane said. Vithane added that he had done a survey within Colombo, and estimated that there were perhaps between 50 to a 100 who had no lodgings whatsoever.
President of Sevanatha (an organisation dealing with urban poverty) K A Jayaratne concurred with Vithane. He added, however, that the shacks built by the city’s poor were illegal constructions, and as such could be demolished if authorities so wished.
(Read more on the plight of the homeless in this Sunday’s Leader)