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Tshwane reaches out to NGOs to explore options of using abandoned city buildings to house homeless

The dilapidated No 2 Struben Street homeless shelter in Pretoria CBD. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

The dilapidated No 2 Struben Street homeless shelter in Pretoria CBD. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 18, 2023


Pretoria - The City of Tshwane is exploring options of using abandoned buildings in the metro to house homeless people.

This after the national census results showed the capital city had the highest number of homeless people in the country.

According to the results, Tshwane was ahead of the City of Johannesburg, accounting for 18.1% of the 55 000 homeless people across the country while Joburg accounted for 15.6%.

The municipality has had its hands full with the growing population of homeless people, grappling with finding them alternative accommodation instead of them sleeping on the streets.

Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink was now exploring ways to accommodate the homeless but added the cash strapped municipality could not afford to build more shelters for the homeless.

The Pretoria News recently reported the homeless centre at No 2 Struben Street in Marabastad was in a dilapidated condition with a stench of uncollected waste, blocked drains and filthy toilets in the air.

The residents go days without washing because of lack of water.

The shelter, established in 2004, is meant to accommodate 300 people, but it is overflowing with more than 550 people.

Recently reports were rife scores of homeless people, who were moved into the community hall in Lyttelton, Centurion as part of the Covid-19 evacuation period, were refusing to leave.

About 25 are still living in the hall despite the city having issued a notice for them to vacate the premises.

Brink said he and his team were looking into consulting and starting a process of working with NGOs to upgrade abandoned city buildings and making them homeless centres to house those who lived on the streets.

He said: “It is an issue that I care deeply about and where we’re going to have to follow a whole of society approach to show the compassion of the city and in the instances where it’s possible to get people back into the economy, back onto their feet because it’s not always possible.”

Brink added with more people flocking into the city, searching for job opportunities, the city did not have the capabilities to build more shelters, but would be sustainable to renovate unused buildings instead.

“When they do not find these opportunities they end up in the streets and being exposed to drug use,” Brink said.

Pretoria News