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LETTER: Community Chest responds on homeless shelter column

Carlos Mesquita and a handful of others formed HAC (the Homeless Action Committee) that lobbies for the rights of the homeless. Picture: Supplied

Carlos Mesquita and a handful of others formed HAC (the Homeless Action Committee) that lobbies for the rights of the homeless. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 22, 2021

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Community Chest notes, with regret, the article by Carlos Mesquita, “Looking back: 'Our House’ is again back to square one - Part 3”.

As an established and respected organisation, Community Chest prides itself on our expanded work into the field of social justice, which evolved from our efforts during 2019 with our legal support for people living on the streets. During this period, we sponsored three legal cases pertaining to the dignity and human rights of Cape Town homeless communities.

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Community Chest responded to a humanitarian emergency following the closure of the Strandfontein camp after a group were left destitute, by opening our offices to provide temporary shelter and support.

We supported accommodation at Youth Solutions, who funded their stay until December 2020, Ubuntu Circle of Courage (the Culemborg site management organisation), while others moved to a Gardens lodge, which became “Our House”, as per agreement at the end of July.

Our House was a realisation of Community Chest’s belief in the potential of the homeless to enter independent living.

We supported this initiative by entering into a lease agreement for a limited period within our financial capacity as well as covering basic living expenses. Our commitment in this respect was to the group of residents and never to an entity or an individual.

This model was always a temporary intervention in order to allow residents time to become employed, independent and able to transition to more secure livelihoods. As Mr Mesquita notes, many residents achieved success. However, Our House has become financially unsustainable. Rental increased threefold since December, and it was agreed that Mr Mesquita would seek to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the initiative.

Community Chest remains committed to long-term interventions, advocacy and policy shifts on the matter of homelessness, as per our mandate as an organisation to assist the most vulnerable of our society.

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* Issued by Community Chest.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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