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

Solutions to ease plight of the homeless, from an unexpected quarter

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 10, 2021

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By Carlos Mesquita

Sometimes good sensible advice comes from those you least expect.

I bumped into my neighbour who refuses to talk about how we got from our MyCiTi bus trip over a month ago to where we are now.

“Focusing on the journey thus far is not important, it’s where we are headed to that matters.”

This time it happens in the fruit and veg section of The Gardens Pick n Pay where she is telling me that I have to find a way to explain to these people (she waves her hands at the customers around us), that in the absence of enough shelter space in Gardens, “we only have two” she says ”and they are already full” (she has found out that besides our House, Gardens is also home to the Pride shelter), “we must find a spot or two or three – and move the homeless there.

“That Dr Badroodien, he must donate tents (so they all look the same) and provide portaloos, clean water and refuse removal. The rest the neighbourhood can do).

“They can adopt them as neighbours and it sorts out those nagging questions of who to donate stuff to, who to ask to mow your lawn. The local CAN will feed them there.”

This excited me. It was a practical, sensible and achievable suggestion made by a woman living in a suburb facing a huge homeless challenge that, a month ago, called the people she refers to as neighbours, “vile and disgusting”.

Even more important was the fact that she had come up with this temporary solution– she made this very clear. The “neighbourhood tent watch” spots would be a temporary solution “while that new group you want to form starts looking for suitable houses to home these people in”. Here she was referring to the organisation that we have registered, The Rehoming Collective NPC.

When the residents in our House were faced with landing up back on the streets, if we didn’t come up with something to replace the dependency status we had with our then sole and exclusive donor, I had The Rehoming Collective registered with its sole responsibility, purpose and intent being to rehome the homeless with dignity and in a way that their agency remained intact.

This would mean separate accommodation facilities for the various aspects of homelessness, such as the frail, the, elderly, the disabled, the abused, the single mother and children, the family, the wet alcoholic, the recovering alcoholic, the drug user, the recovering drug user, the raped, the LGBTI, the ex-prisoner, the first phase, the second phase and independent living.

The Rehoming Collective’s board is made up of members of the sector coalition, I have been writing about in this column for the past two weeks and will also feature City, civil society and business sector representation. Together, the collective will lobby and advocate for a new rehoming model for those living on the streets.

Thinking about it later, it made a great deal of sense, as it would assist us in gathering all the data we need to register the homeless as the members of The Rehoming Collective.

Smiling? So am I.

* Carlos Mesquita and a handful of others formed HAC (the Homeless Action Committee) that lobbies for the rights of the homeless. He also manages Our House in Oranjezicht, which is powered by the Community Chest.

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

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