The biggest obstacle to helping the poor out of poverty could well be the intuitive assumption that poor people are helpless. One consequence is that society squanders the most dynamic mechanism available for improving people’s lives.

This was illustrated a few years ago by a researcher who revealed how a then A-grade rental rate of R140/m2 — the sort of return expected only at the high end of the market — was typical for rental income in an emerging-accommodation model in the Khayelitsha suburb of Ilitha Park on the poverty-prone Cape Flats...

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