The study highlights the realities experienced on the streets of Cape Town, both by the homeless and those attempting to address the issue. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency
The study highlights the realities experienced on the streets of Cape Town, both by the homeless and those attempting to address the issue. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency

Cape Town spends in excess of R744 million a year handling homelessness

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Nov 25, 2020

Share this article:

Cape Town - A study by the Coalition to End Homelessness shows that Cape Town spends in excess of R744 million yearly in responding to homelessness.

The study was initiated by U-turn Homeless Ministries, and supported by coalition members Khulisa Streetscapes and the NGO MES.

The study highlights the realities experienced on the streets of Cape Town, both by the homeless and those attempting to address the issue.

It estimates that there are more than 14 000 people living and sleeping on the streets of Cape Town.

U-turn Homeless Ministries’ Jon Hopkins said: “The study is the first of its kind in South Africa, with similar studies having been conducted in many countries…

“The conclusions from these international studies support the findings from the Cape Town study: the cost of homelessness to society and the individuals on the street is far more than we realise.

“Our current spending on homelessness in Cape Town is on ‘cheaper’ relief responses that support the status quo, allowing the problem to grow and ultimately exacting a high price from us all, both financially and socially.”

Hopkins said due to the physical and mental deterioration experienced by a person living on the street, the cost of homelessness increased the longer a person lived on the street.

Mayco member for community and health services Zahid Badroodien has welcomed the study, saying: “In keeping with our efforts to make meaningful interventions to assist our homeless communities in partnership with willing stakeholders. The report will be studied and deliberated at the appropriate platforms.”

The R744m, according to the study, equates to more than R50 000 per street person per year. The cost included shelters, service providers, state grants and public donations.

For the study, 350 homeless street people were surveyed before the lockdown.

The survey found that 71% of the street homeless people had population have been on the street for more than one year, 6% had a serious mental illness health condition such as schizophrenia, dementia, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 64% have a current drug or alcohol addiction.

Taken together, 50% were found to have been homeless more than one year and have a serious mental health condition or a substance addiction.

Data consultant James Reaper said: “We used two different methods while doing the study, essentially we did a scan of global studies and we picked some of the key areas of homelessness which incur costs. Leveraging the international study we analysed the studies.”

Cape Argus

Share this article:

Related Articles