Two new safe spaces, 330 additional shelter beds for housing insecure in Cape Town

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis visits Culemborg Safe Space 2 in the CBD where the City recently added around 120 new beds. Picture: Supplied/ CoCT

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis visits Culemborg Safe Space 2 in the CBD where the City recently added around 120 new beds. Picture: Supplied/ CoCT

Published Jan 18, 2023


Cape Town - The City of Cape Town announced it will be adding at least 330 more transitional shelter beds and two new safe spaces to help more homeless persons off the streets.

It said these resources will be spread across the metro.

The City further said it will be filing approval applications for two new safe space dignified transitional shelter facilities in Green Point and Durbanville.

The planning approval process will allow for affected parties to comment.

The City of Cape Town said it plans to renovate two municipal-owned sites into safe spaces in the coming months.

An aerial view of the new potential Safe Space location in Durbanville at the Public Transport Interchange (PTI) Picture: Supplied/ City of Cape Town

The safe spaces will offer two meals a day, showers and sanitation, and access to a range of care interventions which include referrals for mental health care, addiction treatment, job placement, family reunification, and assistance in getting identity books.

It said an underutilised portion of the City’s roads depot situated under the fly-over bridge on Ebenezer Road has been earmarked for the 300-bed safe space.

According to Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, a 420-bed boost for Cape Town’s inner city with around 120 shelter beds already added to the City’s Culemborg safe space during winter 2022.

More new beds will follow as the City helps to expand non-government organisation (NGO) run shelters operation on municipal-owned land in central Cape Town, as well as the annual seasonal bed boost as part of its Winter Readiness Campaign 2023.

In Durbanville, the City plans to include a 30-bed safe space in the new Durbanville Public Transport Interchange (PTI) development.

The mayor said both the Green Point and Durbanville proposals will now follow the full regulatory and planning process before being implemented, during which comment by affected parties will be called for and duly considered.

“We aim to create two new Safe Spaces within the coming months as part of our drive to help more people off the streets in Cape Town by expanding dignified transitional shelter.

“Over the last year, we have shifted the City’s policy to care interventions designed to help people off the streets on a sustainable basis.

“This is on the clear understanding that our city’s public spaces serve important economic and community needs.

“No person has the right to reserve a public space as exclusively theirs, while indefinitely refusing all offers of shelter and social assistance.

“Accepting social assistance to leave the streets is the best choice for dignity, health, and well-being,” Hill-Lewis also said.

The new beds will bring the safe space capacity to 1 060 beds across several facilities in the central business district (CBD), Bellville and Durbanville.

The City said it is also making progress on re-purposing other municipal-owned sites elsewhere across the metro, working together with NGO partners, CIDs and residents.

More than R142 million has been committed over a three-year period to expand and operate safe spaces where needed the most.

According to mayoral committee member for community services and health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross, a large number of Capetonians living in public spaces suffer from mental afflictions, addiction, depression, psychosis, trauma, or familial abuse.

“This situation was exacerbated by extended national Covid-19 lockdowns and the related economic impact.

“For this reason, Safe Spaces offer care interventions designed to reintegrate people into society and help them off the streets on a sustainable basis,” she said.

Social development and early childhood development (ECD) officials continue with its city-wide process of conducting individual social assessments of those living on the streets.

This includes reasons for homelessness, physical and mental health, living conditions and sources of income.

It said this will result in a referral for social assistance which can include accommodation at a shelter or City-run safe space.

“While many people accept offers of help to get off the streets, sadly there are also many cases where those unlawfully occupying public spaces have consistently refused all offers of social assistance.

“In these instances, the City will acquire the necessary court order, and ensure that alternative accommodation at shelters or Safe Spaces has been offered, where this is just and equitable,” Hill-Lewis said.

The Western Cape High Court recently ordered the eviction of those unlawfully occupying the public open space on Baxter Street in Durbanville who have refused offers of social support.

The City said it will be approaching the courts for similar orders for hotspots around the city, including the CBD. It said while the process takes time, it needs to establish the social circumstances and identities of those unlawfully occupying public spaces and it would ensure there is a record of social assistance being offered as a first resort.