Johannesburg – Homeless people in Cape Town are benefiting from a new overnight facility situated under a bridge and more joining the waiting list.
“There are 15 street people who have been accommodated thus far and all have returned nightly since we opened,” explains Alderman JP Smith, a Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services within the City of Cape Town.
“They have provided valuable feedback and we now have a list of street people who have expressed interest in being accommodated at the site once it is fully operational.”
The overnight facility is part of the City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department project to provide a “Safe Space” for people living on the streets.
In a statement on Wednesday that City said the overnight facility, which has been operational for a few days, was aimed at addressing the shortage of bed space at shelters.
Smith said the Safe Space was a transitional shelter which provided overnight shelter for up to 230 street people at a facility underneath the Culemborg Bridge on the Foreshore.
“Already many of those who have made use of the facility have indicated that they feel safe and are glad to be off the streets and receiving social assistance,” said Smith.
“Living on the street isn’t easy and neither is sleeping on the street. It’s cold, wet, uncomfortable, and then there is the constant threat of having your meagre possessions stolen or of being attacked.”
The City said at the Safe Space, street people could make use of basic services like ablutions, water and storage lockers, while from August they would also have access to health services and assistance to help them with any substance abuse issues.
The facility could not have come at a better time as temperatures have been falling and winter rains have left the streets are miserable places for the homeless.
“The space has only just opened and already there is a waiting list. We hope that street people will embrace the services offered, which in turn will lead them off the path of homelessness and eventually to becoming reintegrated into the community,” said Smith.
“External service providers are providing soup kitchens and cleaning services, while the site will have a dedicated Law Enforcement team for security. Another aim of the project is to take pressure off existing shelters.
“It will take a collective effort to help people get off the street and become part of our society again. We’ve had some partners who have come on board in a big way.”
Smith said FNB donated sleeping bags, while the V&A Waterfront has partnered to assist with job opportunities for some of the street people in the Expanded Public Works Programme.
“We don’t want the homeless to see sleeping on the street as the best long-term choice open to them. By working to bring together all the services to work as one, and partnering with others, we can make a real difference to the lives of street people,” said Smith.
African News Agency (ANA)