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Skeletons at the feast: A review of street homelessness in South Africa and other world regions


  • Catherine Cross
  • John Seager
  • Johan Erasmus
  • Cathy Ward
  • Michael O'Donovan


Homelessness on the streets has been of concern to governments and civil society for hundreds of years, and the number of homeless tends to rise when economic conditions take an adverse turn. Laying stress on questions of access to housing, livelihoods and services, this paper compares the historical causes of homelessness in Britain and Europe, India, the US and South Africa, in order to approach a better understanding of South Africa's own homelessness situation. Internationally, the key debate is whether homelessness is due to simple lack of affordable housing, or to a range of complex factors involving poverty and unemployment. The paper argues that spatial access to street livelihoods and access to the metro core zones are critical factors linking housing access to poverty economics, and it questions whether in South Africa's situation street homelessness can be eliminated in the foreseeable future.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Cross & John Seager & Johan Erasmus & Cathy Ward & Michael O'Donovan, 2010. "Skeletons at the feast: A review of street homelessness in South Africa and other world regions," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 5-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:27:y:2010:i:1:p:5-20 DOI: 10.1080/03768350903519291

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johan Fourie, 2006. "Economic Infrastructure: A Review Of Definitions, Theory And Empirics," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 74(3), pages 530-556, September.
    2. Fink, Carsten & Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina, 2005. "Assessing the impact of communication costs on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 428-445, December.
    3. Robinson, James A. & Torvik, Ragnar, 2005. "White elephants," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 197-210, February.
    4. Limao, Nuno & Venables, Anthony J., 1999. "Infrastructure, geographical disadvantage, and transport costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2257, The World Bank.
    5. Peter Perkins & Johann Fedderke & John Luiz, 2005. "An Analysis Of Economic Infrastructure Investment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(2), pages 211-228, June.
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