[Editor’s Note: Carlos Mesquita is a member of the GOOD Party]
I have spent the past two weeks trying to find ways of accommodating those who the City is hell-bent on evicting on February 7, not only at the tent city encampment at 3 Anchor Bay but also all over Sea Point and Green Point.
The City requested that those evicted may not re-erect structures or sleep in any space in the area that is owned by the City – and it forms part of the judgment.
The entire eviction doesn’t sit well with me.
After all, what the City has suddenly offered – temporary accommodation in Delft somewhere – is not what was negotiated over the past two years.
The City had promised to open a 300-bed Safe Space in Green Point, which was meant to be transitional.
Yet, despite the promise, it has pressed on with its application for an eviction order, knowing full well it has no intention of making the safe space transitional when it finally opens.
Emily could never have imagined she’d end up living on the streets. However, that’s been been her reality for more than 14 years, living in a tent which she shares with Bongani on a busy road in Sea Point that brings motorists in from the highway. This is, until now! Last week Friday, we helped her move from her makeshift tent to her new lock-up room in a share block in the CBD. Finally, Emily has a place to call home!
It’s devastatingly sad to see that as more and more people are visibly landing up on the streets, many politicians are focusing more on punishing the people by constantly harassing them and pushing them out of sight instead of providing the essential support they desperately need.
Unfortunately, the Atlantic Seaboard is a prime example of a suburb that’s pretty harsh on those living on the streets. It seems more interested in criminalising them rather than offer a helping hand, and this will, ultimately, hurt us all.
Homelessness is getting worse, and instead of creating helpful and sustainable solutions, where people can be afforded the dignity of some privacy and a level of safety in a lock-up room, more and more of the available funding is going to the model we employ to accommodate those living on the streets, which is undignified, temporary, in many cases, unsafe and where individuals are stripped of all agency and privacy.
A space like the one Emily and Bongani moved into is, as she puts it “a new lease of life”, a more humane and effective solution than just moving people around or throwing them in jail. And, believe it or not, it saves taxpayers’ money in the long run.
The DA-run City of Cape Town’s approach to dealing with homelessness is doing more harm than good, making the situation worse for those struggling to survive on the streets.
It seems there’s a lack of understanding that secure accommodation is a game-changer – it can turn someone’s life around, getting them off the streets permanently.
Giving people the opportunity of a stable place to live is the real solution to homelessness. The crisis that is homelessness calls for compassion and real, lasting solutions, like more housing options, not just condemning those who are struggling.
I will keep you posted on Rachel and Bongani’s “new beginning” and I am hoping it will allow people to see this journey as a beacon of hope and a testament to what’s possible when we address homelessness with kindness, understanding and actual help instead of harassment, court orders, evictions and criminalisation.
* Carlos Mesquita.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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