What’s the plan for the homeless this winter

Johann Kikillus, Director Soteria Ministries, Fish Hoek

About one year ago, I submitted a letter to the False Bay Echo, (“Dear gangsters…,” Echo March 25, 2021) where I asked the City of Cape Town, Department of Social Development and Community Police Forum what the plan was for the homeless in Fish Hoek considering that winter was almost upon us.

We are now coming to the end of March and winter is again upon us. I have noted several issues regarding the homeless since that letter.

1. The number of homeless has increased again

2. The criminal element remains a big concern. I have lost count of the number of fights I have witnessed just behind Pick and Pay parking lot. I have had several complaints again from scholars who have been harassed and elderly people who have been followed home.

3. The parks are still being used for drinking and drug use

4. The homeless with serious mental health problems are still wandering around. I am wondering if they were in fact assisted by the Health department.

5. Bottle stores are still selling alcohol to full blown alcoholics who then drink outside schools and senior facilities. Every morning I see empty bottles lying around.

While there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour, I must add that I have seen fewer elderly homeless so I assume they are being looked after somewhere.

However as the cold weather and rain sets in, I would like to ask what plan has been put in place to address this ongoing problem? Also, how can the public be of assistance?”

• The City of Cape Town, responds: The City’s Care Programme to help people off the streets already amounts to around R65 million annually, as the only metro in South Africa dedicating a social development budget to this issue.

To increase shelter bed spaces this winter, an extra R10 million was prioritised via the adjustment budget in January. This funding is now set for distribution to NGO-run shelters to scale up bed availability for when the worst weather arrives.

The next step is to expand existing safe spaces, starting immediately in the CBD, and to bring this model to more parts of Cape Town progressively in a shorter space of time. This will be a priority for the upcoming 2022 budget and over the medium term.

The safe space model includes dignified shelter, comfort and ablutions, two meals per day, access to a social worker on-site, personal development planning, ID Book and social grant assistance, access to substance and alcohol abuse treatment, skills training, help to find a job, and EPWP work placement.

The City’s reintegration unit of social development and ECD professionals generally handles referrals to Safe Spaces.

These dedicated officials will be on the streets daily to engage people about solutions, including:

· Reunification with family;

· Social assistance to overcome a temporary barrier to getting off the street;

· Alternative accommodation at City Safe Spaces and NGO-run shelters; and

· Access to developmental programmes to become self-sustaining off the streets.

Where offers of shelter and support are refused, the City will apply the By-Law on Streets, Public Places, and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances.