City green-lights new street people accommodation options

STATEMENT BY MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES AND HEALTH, COUNCILLOR ZAHID BADROODIEN

City green-lights new street people accommodation options

The City of Cape Town is finalising the closure of the Strandfontein temporary shelter for street people, and the accommodation needs of the persons on site who have requested ongoing assistance. It has adopted a three-pronged approach to accommodating street people:

• Of the persons remaining on site at Strandfontein, 356 have indicated that they would prefer remaining in a safe space, instead of returning to the streets
• Extending existing shelters by creating additional bed spaces
• Long-term development of safe spaces across the city in identified communities
The City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department is working closely with shelters where spaces have been secured at the Haven Night Shelter, Oasis Reach for Your Dream, Ubuntu Circle of Courage, TASP, Cape Flats YMCA and the Happy Valley Shelter.

This week, the Mayoral Committee has also given the go-ahead for the procurement of prefabricated structures to be placed on vacant City land next to existing shelters where this is a viable option. The benefit of this, rather than temporary pop-up shelters is that beds will remain available even after the COVID-19 pandemic for our homeless to access at their convenience.

The City’s Homeless Agency Committee has championed a progressive approach to helping our homeless community interested in accessing City services to do so. This includes rehabilitation services, upskilling programmes, reintegration and reunification with families as well as short term employment opportunities so that they may engage in a sustainable way to exit homelessness. The City is very excited about this proposal, as there is a need for more shelter beds in Cape Town. This will be achieved through the rolling out of additional safe spaces across the city.

The Strandfontein shelter has provided the homeless with opportunities that would not have been possible without the establishment of this temporary accommodation.

• 1 352 persons have been provided with chronic and clinical treatment for conditions like TB, HIV, Diabetes, Hypertension and Epilepsy.
• 272 people tested for TB, 24 on treatment and isolated
• 1 858 people screened for COVID and 66 tested and isolated, all tests were returned as negative
• Over 120 people re-integrated with their families
• 4 500 meals issued a day
• 2000 mattresses and 2000 blankets procured and distributed to every person
• Each person was issued with a vanity pack
• Psycho-social services for substance users as part of the rehabilitation process
Most importantly, as has been the primary focus of the temporary shelter, we were able to screen all persons entering the site for COVID-19 and included additional screening for Tuberculosis. Those who tested positive for TB, and those who underwent COVID-19 testing were isolated. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Coronavirus among the street people on site. A number of persons also received assistance in guiding them through their substance withdrawal symptoms.

The NGOs who managed the various tents on site have a long standing and reliable service record within the shelter sector. The Haven Night Shelter, Ubuntu Circle of Courage and Oasis – Reach for Your Dreams have cared for our homeless community with the utmost professionalism and expertise, as did the other service providers who assisted with the various needs identified on site.

The City is mandated, in terms of its Integrated Development Plan, to proactively help the poor and most vulnerable in society, including the homeless, to access services and support regardless of their circumstances. The Strandfontein site is evidence that the City exceeded the required level of response by providing shelter to street people as well as other ancillary services.

The site is however temporary, as we have indicated from the outset, and reiterated several times since. We envision that the site will be empty by 20 May.

Many persons who were housed at Strandfontein have opted to return to the streets – some of them have already returned to their areas of origin. It is not illegal to be homeless. The level 4 lockdown regulations removes the authority of the state to evacuate a homeless person from any place to a shelter as a necessary precaution to preserve life. This goes to say that if a homeless person chooses not to access a shelter, the City cannot place an individual in a shelter without their consent.

The City appeals to all residents and organisations to give dignity to our homeless community by giving responsibly. In the process of giving food, clothing, money remember the established shelter and relief organisations that offer support and safety to our homeless community during this period. Please rather take feeding schemes, dry ingredients and the like to these organisations that help our homeless instead of giving indiscriminately to homeless individuals on streets and by so doing preventing them from accessing more sustainable and meaningful forms of assistance and shelter.

End

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, City of Cape Town, Cell: 072 639 5773, Email: zahid.badroodien@capetown.gov.za (please always copy media.account@capetown.gov.za)