Welkin Projects

Embracing each other's differences


People experiencing Homelessness

Each year millions of people in Africa and South Africa experience an episode of homelessness. The psychological and physical impact of homelessness is a matter of public health concern.

Among those living without homes are people of all ages, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientation, and immigration status.

Homelessness occurs when a cascade of economic and interpersonal factors converge in the lives of people marginalized in society. When compared with the general population, people living without homes have poorer physical health, including higher rates of tuberculosis, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, as well as higher rates of medical hospitalizations.

Defining homelessness is not without controversy. Disagreement among policymakers, government officials, social scientists, and advocates exists over conditions that constitute homelessness, and by extension, who “is” or “is not” considered to be homeless. Such debates have far-reaching implications.

For example, narrow definitions of homelessness may preclude people having access to housing subsidies and vouchers, emergency shelter and/or transitional housing programs, and specific social service programs.

The following is an inclusive definition of homelessness:

Homelessness exists when people lack safe, stable, and appropriate places to live. Sheltered and unsheltered people are homeless. People living doubled up or in overcrowded living situations or motels because of inadequate economic resources are included in this definition, as are those living in tents or other temporary enclosures.