File photo: Bongani Shilubane / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – A City study, which found a decrease of 16% in the homeless population in Cape Town, has been met with a barrage of criticism by philanthropists who work with the destitute daily.

In the study, conducted over an 18-day period in November, a count of people sleeping on the street was done, including at the shelters which provided registers, in order to ascertain how many people were using their facilities.

The survey identified the Cape Town CBD and the communities of Mitchells Plain and Bellville had the largest numbers of street people.

According to mayor Dan Plato: “Cape Town is one of the few administrations with a policy for street people and meaningful interventions for those who agree to it, but we cannot rest on our laurels.

“The social development findings of this enumeration will help to determine if and how we need to augment the City’s existing social development interventions to provide support for these street people.”

He said the City had changed its mechanisms for how the public could assist, with the launch of the “Give Dignity” campaign.

The campaign allows people to make donations to the homeless at drop-off points at all the City libraries.

According to the study, 3999 persons were found to be sleeping on the street, of which 2084 were using shelters.

This figure was just over 16% lower than recorded in the last count which was done in 2015.

At least 64% of street people were male. Just over 55% were reported to be coloured.

The mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said: “Our street people statistics will enable all levels of the government to make the necessary policy changes aimed at increasing or improving initiatives to support those who sleep rough in Cape Town.”

The director of the NGO Hope Exchange, Peter Solomon, said it was “baffling” that the report suggests a decrease of 16%.

“This doesn’t correlate with the increased number of homeless clients requiring and accessing our services, as well as the increased assistance and service offerings we’ve delivered to them.

“It’s further puzzling that a decrease is reported when a simple observation of spaces previously devoid of homeless people, have since visibly manifested homelessness or where the prevalence of homelessness is evident.”

Venetia Orgill, whose NPO Discover Your Power runs a weekly feeding scheme in the Company’s Garden, said the City was fooling itself if it believed there was a decrease in homelessness.

“There is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed because you have young people, and spouses ending up on our streets because their family members have protection orders against them.

“This City needs to address this social problem and come up with solutions to tackle the scourge of drugs on our streets, and employ social workers to deal with the problem.”

Cape Times