Skeletons at the feast: a review of street homelessness
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Homelessness on the streets has been of concern to governments and civil society for hundreds of years, and the number of homeless people tends to rise when economic conditions take an adverse turn. Emphasising questions of access to housing, livelihoods and services, CATHERINE CROSS, JOHN SEAGER et al. question whether in South African street homelessness can be eliminated in the foreseeable future.
Homelessness on the streets in South Africa is a slow-moving tragedy that arouses anxiety in government and civil society, but one that is overshadowed by the size of the population in shack housing. As unemployment has risen, larger numbers of the poor are living on the margins and are dependent on temporary work or social grants; from there, many have descended into true homelessness.
The study suggests that there may be from 100 000 to 200 000 truly homeless street people in South Africa's urban and rural districts, including adults and children.
South Africa is not well prepared for increasing homelessness. Compared to the situation of people in shack settlements, little is known about the street homeless and there are no formal statistics. In their extreme poverty, isolation and loss of societal resources, the truly homeless exactly fit the description `the destitute', and are worse off than people living in shacks.