World Homelessness Day: City working to expand dignified transitional shelter

As we mark World Homelessness Day, the City of Cape Town continues its programme to expand dignified transitional shelter options to help people off the streets across the metro. The City plans to spend at least R140 million over 3 years to expand and operate its Safe Spaces beyond the CBD and Bellville. This includes identifying potential sites for new transitional Safe Spaces, as well as efforts to increase capacity at a number of existing shelters. The Safe Space model offers a dignified transitional shelter pathway off the streets, along with a range of social services, from access to an on-site social worker, to personal development planning.

Together with various NGOs and ward councillors, the City is pursuing localised Safe Spaces that would be made available to help people off the streets in various neighbourhoods. Feasibility studies are under way into these prospective sites to determine their suitability.

‘I am especially encouraged by the work done to identify a new safe space on City-owned land in the Green Point CBD – with extensive capacity potential – as well as the work done by the local Improvement District and City officials to identify municipal-owned land in the Muizenberg area for a similar purpose. More details on these sites will be announced once feasibility is complete. The City is also working with the Haven Night Shelter to increase bed spaces at some of their facilities operating on municipal-owned land. With the help of proactive and caring citizens, councillors, and NGOs, we can help more people off the streets together,’ said Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

‘It is a fact that we have experienced an increase in persons living on our streets and public spaces since the Covid-19 pandemic. The causes are varied and complex, with solutions requiring the resources of time, people, land, and finance to be made available. Although social welfare falls outside of local government’s constitutional mandate, the City is increasingly stepping into the breach to provide tangible assistance to help people off the streets. These interventions are continuing on a daily basis together with our civil society partners. And now, we are investigating how we can do even more, by expanding access to dignified transitional shelter, coupled with social programmes focusing on reintegration into society,’ added Hill-Lewis.

Over 1 800 people helped off the streets in one year

The expansion of safe shelter spaces is but the latest in a series of ongoing interventions led by the City of Cape Town to help people off the streets.

The City continues to go above and beyond its mandate to provide support through Grant in Aid funding to NGOs working in the sector. In June, the Social Development and Early Childhood Development (SDECD) Department disbursed nearly R10 million to 11 NGO beneficiaries to provide accommodation, developmental programmes, job readiness skills, mental health support and more to help people off the streets in various parts of the metropole.

The Department has also driven the establishment of three City-owned Safe Space transitional shelters since 2018 and a myriad of interventions to effect meaningful change through its Street People Programme.

In the last financial year alone, from July 2021 to June 2022, the direct efforts of City officials have resulted in:
1813 people helped off the streets, through shelter placements, reunifying families, and other forms of reintegration.
2799 people participating in development programmes at City-run Safe Spaces
936 EPWP work placements to help those staying at our Safe Spaces and in shelters get back on their feet
566 referrals for social grants, identity documents, specialised care facilities, and substance abuse treatment – with an 80% Matrix programme success rate to address addiction as a key driver of why people end up on the streets.
In addition, with funding made available by the Executive Mayor, SDECD provided developmental programmes to 545 persons living on the street across the city.

‘The complexity of homelessness is something that many cities around the world grapple with. One thing is certain – it cannot be up to government alone to solve, and requires a whole of society approach. There are many in our city who provide support to help people off the streets sustainably. We welcome this support, and urge the public to keep donating towards causes that emphasise sustainable pathways off the streets for more people,’ said the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.

Source: City Of Cape Town

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