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Housing shortages, unemployment and rapid urbanisation are the greatest factors contributing to the rising numbers of homeless individuals in South Africa. 

For many individuals living in the vast rural spaces in South Africa, its large cities beckon with the promise of employment and the opportunity to improve not only individual circumstances, but also those of their families and communities.  

Unfortunately, with South Africa’s unemployment rates hitting all time highs, not to mention the country’s poor economic performance, political uncertainty and high levels of corruption, many rural dwellers who migrate to cities are unable to find employment. Added to high levels of unemployment, accommodation in cities is costly and hard to come by. 

The issue of homelessness and poverty has been as much a part of South Africa’s history as it is of its present. From a grass roots level, the South African education system has been found wanting, with few students receiving more than a basic primary education, even less passing their matric exams, and tertiary education an unlikely occurrenceWith so many receiving only the most basic schooling, many find that there is little hope of achieving gainful employment in adulthood.  

While a number of government initiatives have been launched to address crises around education, unemployment and homelessness, there is a long road ahead for South Africa’s homeless. And while homelessness is a global phenomenon, there is less knowledge about its triggers and challenges in developing countries such as South Africa, which needs to be analysed on a contextual basis.  

In factgovernment and non-profit organisations need to research the context in which homelessness occurs in order to create insights to better support those find themselves in this situation.   

One of the greatest challenges standing in the way of alleviating South Africa’s homeless issue is that there is little incentive for individuals to return to their original communities where the poverty, violence, domestic and sexual abuse, as well as lack of opportunity, is even worse than what they are currently experiencing.  


These aren’t just words, neatly packed to sound helpful “in theory”; these are the very real concepts on which the global movement of positive change is built.
It’s with these ideas that The Philanthropic Collection home to The CEO SleepOut is turning old world philanthropy on its head;
getting business leaders to sleep on the streets to raise funds and gain empathy for the homeless in The CEO SleepOut Event;
and sparking conversations that truly lead to worldwide action.

By Ali Gregg