Cape Town - 131010 - The Street People Stakeholder Conference took place in the Cape Town Civic Centre today as part of World Homeless Day in order to draw attention to the local homeless peoples needs and oppurtunities. Pictured: MAYCO Member for Social Development And Early Childhood Development Suzette Little. REPORTER: YOLISA TSWANYA. PICTURE: WILLEM LAW.

Cape Town - More than 1 300 people have been moved off the streets to rehabilitation centres and some have been reunited with families over the past six months, says the City of Cape Town.

The city’s Social Development Department said more and more street people were using its facilities which were designed to help street people get back on their feet.

The Street Intervention Project started last November. Since then 1 128 people from the streets have received medical and “rehabilitative” help.

In January the city opened eight assessment centres which have seen a further 300 homeless people.

Sixty-five people were returned to their home towns and more than 200 have received assistance with state grants, job skills development and medical health services.

Mayoral committee member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development councillor Suzette Little said she was pleased with the project’s progress.

“I am encouraged by the progress we are making. When we consider the mammoth challenge that we are faced with, it gives me confidence that we are on the right track.”

Little said people could not be forced into the programme or to go to shelters, but her department would continue in offering assistance.

During the period under review, the city’s field workers found an estimated 180 new people had migrated to the streets – a focus area which the department is investing in heavily.

“Our efforts to help people get off the streets would be futile if we ignored others who continue to migrate to the streets.

“Unfortunately, it will take some time before the fruits of our labour become apparent.”

The department has meanwhile stepped up its efforts to meet the needs of street people during winter. Sixteen organisations have qualified for the R280 000 in aid that the city has made available as part of its street people winter readiness programme, in association with the Community Chest and Western Cape government.

In the first few weeks, 200 mattresses and blankets were distributed to the organisations.

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Cape Argus