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Living Conditions

Kitso Lesedi

Living Conditions

People Living in the Street (PLS) and Children Living in the Street (CLS) are subject to the following conditions:


Poverty seems to cause breakdown of families and moral values pushing people particularly children to move to urban areas and cities to seek for better opportunities to earn some money to support their families.

However, when they get to the city and the don’t have any relatives or friends in the city; they then experience more hardship as they have to scavenge bins searching for food. If not they go to sleep on an empty stomach

Sexual Abuse; Rape and Prostitution

Some of the PLS and CLS are vulnerable to sexual abuse, rape and prostitution and are vulnerable to diseases such as STD and HIV/AIDS

Insecure and Vulnerable to Threats and Violence

People living in the street are generally insecure in the basics of life, like not knowing where their next meal will come from. In addition to that lack of protection for their goods as they don’t have a permanent dwelling place.

They are also prone to robbery, mugging and sexual violence. They are also vulnerable to diseases such as TB and other blood borne diseases such as Hepatitis.


People living in the street are viewed as trouble makers and criminals. Most of them are aggressive because of the environment where they live in. aggressiveness is part of the survival culture for them. PLS and CLS are caught between their life circumstances and the dominant, ever present values of the wider society around them which tell them how they should act.

Substance Abuse Dependence

People living in the streets are so vulnerable to substance abuse. This is part of their reality in the street. Substance abuse provides people living in the street temporary but sure oblivion to cold, heat, hunger pangs, fear, loneliness and despondency. Most of them have become addicts to things like glue sniffing, alcohol and dagga and they will do anything to support the habit than on other necessities even if it means selling some of their belongings that they receive from other people and petty cash they get from doing odd jobs.

Not Stakeholders in Society

The lack of identity and status of people living in the street means they get little chance to determine aspects of their living conditions. They lack power to such an extent that many are considered almost non persons without papers, rights or vote. They are as close as one gets to be invisible in society

Low Self Esteem

PLS and CLS are more likely to suffer from disordered and fragmented identities, resulting in low self-esteem, self-hatred, affective instability and poor control of aggressive impulses. This is the reason why they are so prone to indulge in chemical substance abuse and prostitution.

Health Care Challenges

People living in the street [PLS] are more likely to suffer injuries and medical problems from their lifestyle on the street, which includes poor nutrition, exposure to the severe elements of weather, and a higher exposure to violence (robberies, beatings, and so on). Yet at the same time, they have little access to public medical services or clinics.

There are significant challenges in treating PLS people who have psychiatric disorders, because clinical appointments may not be kept, their continuing whereabouts are unknown, their medicines are not taken and monitored, medical and psychiatric histories are not accurate, and for other reasons. Because many PLS have mental illnesses, this has presented a crisis in care.

PLS often find it difficult to document their date of birth or their address. Because they usually have no place to store possessions, they often lose their belongings, including their identification and other documents, or find them destroyed by police or others. Without a photo ID, they cannot get a job or access many social services. They can be denied access to even the most basic assistance: clothing closets, food pantries, certain public benefits, and in some cases, emergency shelters.

Obtaining replacement identification is difficult. Without an address, birth certificates cannot be mailed.

Lack of Access to Storage for their Possession

Many of the PLS keep all their possessions with them because they have no access to storage. Some of them are called the "bag" people, the shopping cart people, and the soda can collectors who sort through garbage to find items to sell, trade and eat. They always carry around all of their possessions with them all the time because they have no place to store them. Their hygiene is always lacking because they have no access to or capability to get to a shelter and possible bathing, or access to toilets and laundry facilities.

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