All people deserve a roof over their heads…on this day

Houses built up vertical surface (AP Images)
Giant portraits are displayed on the walls of slum housing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These photos are part of an exhibition by French artist JR, entitled “Women are Heroes.” (AP Images)

What if you woke each morning not knowing if you’d find shelter that night? That’s the daily reality for more than 100 million homeless people worldwide.

According to the nonprofit group Habitat for Humanity, an additional 2 billion people live in inadequate slums. This is why the United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as World Habitat Day. This annual event encourages action toward ending poverty and homelessness around the world, and raises awareness that everyone, everywhere shares the basic right to have adequate shelter.

In the United States, everyone from students, faith groups and entrepreneurs to architects and urban planners is offering innovative solutions to the problem of homelessness — both domestically and abroad. Volunteers and donors to Habitat for Humanity have helped build and repair more than 800,000 houses globally.

The organization Second Wind Cottages and similar groups are building “tiny homes” that provide people with the security and dignity of their own places to live.

Innovative tiny house for World Habitat Day (AP Images)
A tiny home, like this one in Wisconsin, brings security and hope to the homeless. (AP Images)

The United Nations chose the theme “Voices from Slums” for World Habitat Day 2014. The campaign hopes to spread awareness about what life is like in slum conditions, and to give those who live there a chance to share their experiences and to have a voice in improving their circumstances.

Concerned citizens now have a place to hear personal stories on audio from slum dwellers, who usually live in anonymity and have no idea of when or how their living conditions might improve.