Assessing Shelters Across South Delhi’s Changing Spaces and Moving People
About half of Delhi’s homeless shelters operate at full capacity to overcrowded conditions, providing less space than the norm of 50 sq.ft. per resident. This is a planning problem since policymakers have treated critical questions of where shelters should be built, how many residents shelters should accommodate, and how much space to allot for each shelter as separate issues at various times, and independent of the actual demographics that the various shelters in different parts of the city cater to. This piece focuses on two neighboring, identically-sized porta-cabin shelters in South Delhi’s Nehru Place, which cater to two different groups of homeless people. It juxtaposes narratives of the two sets of residents with an analysis of the official data to reveal why, over the last eighteen months (March 2019-August 2020), one of them was constantly overcrowded and the other was, by official standards, modestly but consistently utilized.