Homelessness in South Africa

 In Advice, Articles

Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues in this country and it is more than just not having a roof over your head, understanding the multiple types of homelessness will help prevent it from happening.

There are many factors that contribute to this awful epidemic in South Africa.

  • Burns (1992:3 and 11) [i]argues that the sources of homelessness is a syndrome that includes job losses, financial cutbacks and family instability. Homelessness is clearly more than a lack of a roof.


The Human Sciences Resource [ii]Center estimates that 200 000 people in South Africa are without shelter while a study done in UCT suggests that excluding people that are living in robust conditions should also be included in the list of homeless people. Proper housing and sanitation should be one of the top agendas from the government as section 26(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996 states that it is everyone’s right to access adequate housing.

Homeless people are exposed to the extremes of every weather which can leave them very ill and untreated because they lack the aid. Access to food, basic sanitation plus healthcare becomes almost impossible. There are government schemes and programs in place to help eradicate this hostile phenomenon such as The Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP

There are many types/causes of homelessness; we have discussed a few in the following extract: [iii]

  • Economic Homelessness

This refers to the people that went through a financial strain which resulted to them losing everything. In this group you will also find people who arrived in big cities to better their lives, unemployment then leaded to them being homeless.

  • Situational Homelessness

This refers to people that are homeless as a result of domestic violence or abuse. Conflict within families and accusations of crimes usually leads to separation. In this category, one will also find foreigners that seek asylum in our country plus people that were just released from prison.

  • Chronic Homelessness

This is a group of people that suffered from addiction and mental illness. Exclusion in the job market result into homelessness as no corporate gives them a chance.

  • Near Homelessness

This group includes people who are on the brink of losing the roof over their head. It might be due to financial reasons or a death of the only family they have. Children that are getting old are kicked out of orphanages as they are at an age where they are able to look after themselves. People who are also in transactional relationships leave in fear of being cut out.

Solutions to this epidemic require effort of the public in general, the government and non-governmental organizations.

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[i] www.hsrc.ac.za

[ii] wp.wpi.edu

[iii] Tshwane Homelessness Forum, 2012, Inputs into the Draft Policy on Homelessness of the City of Tshwane

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