Cape Town - Civil society organisations assisting the homeless to transition off the streets can breathe a sigh of relief after the Council, last week, approved funds for the continuation of the Presidential Employment Programme (Pep Project) which addresses homelessness and addiction support.
This after the City’s enterprise and investment department committed to bridging the funding of this project pending the approval of the roll-over request from the National Treasury of R3 290 000.
Concerns about the Pep project came to the fore last month when civil society organisations started a petition calling for the City not to discontinue the project. Following the council’s approval, the project would continue for a further two months.
The project was set out for eight months, however due to what the City said was late commencement caused by processes to transfer the funding, Khulisa Social Solutions and its partners were able to implement the project for six months until last month.
The roll-over comes with the risk that National Treasury might not approve the roll-over value, however the City indicated that the Enterprise and Investment department would carry this risk and accommodate it within its current budgets.
The City said a new request was also submitted to National Treasury to source funding for the continuation of this project from September 1 to June 2024.
Founder of the Rehoming Collective, and activist, Carlos Mesquita, said that currently, such programmes did not affect new individuals, as service providers tend to move people from one programme to the next for it to be sustainable for those individuals already employed.
“We have to start looking at mass employment opportunities that are not temporary in nature and are sustainable. No one wants someone reaching a certain level and having to return to the streets, and that’s currently the reality.
“With the PEP programme, I support the bridge funding as the programme was originally meant to run from November last year until June, which in effect was eight months in any case, and hopefully the extension is granted.
“This will certainly impact positively on these specific programmes and beneficiaries,” he said.
Petition author Sarah Driver-Jowitt said the project had been successful in addressing the reasons the homeless ended up living on the streets. She said the programme had helped 90% of the beneficiaries stay off the streets when it ended.
She said they also welcomed and hoped the National Treasury would approve the funding for two years, as she said the transition off the streets needed long-term interventions.
Community Services and Health Mayco member Patricia van der Ross said assisting the homeless on all levels was the City’s priority, and with the additional funding, it would be able to restore some dignity to the lives of those living on the street.