Dorice ‘Dee’ Livy at the homeless shelter in Napier Street.
Cape Town - The Haven Night Shelter in Napier Street, Green Point, gives a place to stay to over 30 women and 70 men.

It is one of the 27 shelters that the provincial government funds for the 4862 homeless people living on the streets in the area of Cape Town.

Women statistically face higher unemployment rates and more chances of being financially unstable, which makes them vulnerable to homelessness.

Lucia Petersen, a social worker at The Haven, said: “Unemployment and poverty are the main reasons people end up on the streets or in shelters.

“In addition, many of these women have traumas to overcome, like rape and other abuse, anddon’tt have the support they need.”

Dorice “Dee” Livy has been in the shelter for the past six months. She was raised in Sea Point by a family that adopted her when she was two months old and worked in hospitality in Cape Town and Pretoria.

After losing her job, she returned to Cape Town to stay at a friend’s house. Her friend had to move out unexpectedly and Dee was unable to maintain herself. Now she cooks in the kitchen of the shelter and gets jobs at a restaurant nearby. She will soon move to an apartment with three others.

“It depends on you,” said Dee.

Joshua Chigome, spokesperson for Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, said: “In terms of women who are destitute and victims of abuse, our department, through its Victim Empowerment Programme, is responsible for providing victim support services that include safe and secure accommodation, psycho-social support and empowerment of victims of crime and violence.”

On the other hand, Kathy Cronje, director of The Safe House for abused women and children, considers the root of the problem of homeless and abused women to be the early drop-out age at school, together with the lack of job opportunities, that leads women to not be economically independent.

“They feel forced to live with their abuser because they feel they have no other option. A lot of them have absolutely nowhere to go, so they’re homeless,” said Cronje. “You’ve got to break the cycle of abuse.”

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