The homeless crisis in India

Column One: The place where homeless people come to die with dignity. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

As the global financial crisis and recession has subsided, the homeless crisis has returned with a vengeance. According to the World Bank, there were 8.5 million people living without a roof over their heads in the middle of 2011. The number has since risen to 11.7 million. In the last two years, the number of people living on the street has doubled.

I’m not making this up. In some places, such as India’s southern city of Bangalore, the numbers are even more alarming, because people like me are the lucky ones.

I used to work as a consultant in Bangalore, which was one of the most expensive places in the world to live, but I was able to raise my family here, where the cost of living is much more moderate. The average monthly salary here, for instance, is about $1,800.

But even with the cost of housing low, and the salaries modest, we were still broke. My husband and I lived in a tiny room with a single bed and a single mattress. When I asked my parents to take us in to help, they didn’t have enough room for all of us. My mother-in-law, who had raised three children on her own, took us in.

I found a small room in the basement with one double bed and two mattresses. I worked in and out of it, and it was comfortable.

At the time, I was still married to my first husband, and we were facing a series of legal entanglements concerning our three grown children. My mother-in-law was the same age as our youngest daughter, and my mother-in-law had a hard time coping with our young daughter’s issues because I was often out of the house. So it’s unlikely she would have taken in a 12-year-old girl, who could have been as much as a stepdaughter as well.

We were also facing legal troubles for my second husband, who was having an affair with our then-sister-in-law. Both of my sons were now in college, and had come back to stay with us for two months to help with our legal problems. I didn’t

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