Perceptions, Persecution and Pity: The Limitations of Interventions for Homelessness in Developing Countries

Authors

  • SUZANNE SPEAK,

    Corresponding author
    1. Global Urban Research Unit, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
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  • GRAHAM TIPPLE

    Corresponding author
    1. Global Urban Research Unit, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
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Suzanne Speak (s.e.speak@newcastle.ac.uk) and Graham Tipple (a.g.tipple@ncl.ac.uk), Global Urban Research Unit, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.

Abstract

Interventions for homelessness in developing countries are frequently negative and unhelpful. They tend to exist in an environment of hostility, suspicion and apathy towards homeless people. This environment is cultivated and enhanced by negative and derogatory language and images used by politicians, the public and the media in their portrayal of homeless people as unemployed, beggars, drunks and criminals. Findings from a recently completed study of homelessness in nine developing countries suggest that this perception is largely false. This article argues that, until the popular misconception of homeless people is corrected, even the most well-intentioned interventions will have little long-term effect.

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