NGO forges ahead with plans to provide a shelter for the homeless despite objections
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Western Cape: The non-governmental organisation setting up a shelter for the homeless in Strandfontein is pushing ahead with its plans, despite objections.
The City said it had put on hold its resources to support the planned shelter until consultation with local residents had been undertaken.
The Strandfontein Ratepayers and Residents Association wrote to City officials expressing its dissatisfaction and objection to the planned relocation of about 100 homeless people to a local facility without prior consultation.
"It appears that the City once again is disrespecting the existence of the people of Strandfontein, Bayview and San Remo as a community, homeowners and ratepayers," said Ratepayers' Association chairperson Mario Oostendurp.
However, The Haven Night Shelter said it would open the facility on August 1 as part of its ongoing efforts to end homelessness.
"The initial operational period is six months from August 1. While I am willing to address any legitimate concerns around the shelter, I will not support any efforts of gatekeeping," The Haven Night Shelter chief executive, Hassan Khan, said.
He said the shelter would serve the greater Mitchells Plain area and any other homeless people within the City of Cape Town area.
"For us to run a viable shelter, we need 100 homeless people, and there's fewer than that in Strandfontein, hence we will include the greater Mitchells Plain area, which is under serviced," Khan said.
He accused the ratepayers association of a push-back based on a "not in my backyard" attitude.
"The first house of the ratepayers association members is about 600 meters away from the facility. I have no doubt that our vision of helping the homeless enjoys support from the Strandfontein residents," added Khan.
Oostendurp said the association was in principle supportive of the plan and the community would support any projects that helped the less fortunate.
"However, as per the infamous 2020 Strandfontein Homeless Camp, none of our homeless persons or those who live in the immediate and surrounding informal settlements are being accommodated," said Oostendurp.
He questioned whether the homeless people who would be housed in the facility were to be brought from "affluent" areas in an effort to clear the streets of "undesirable people as part of a political and racialised plan".
Oostendurp said the community were also concerned that even though the initial intake was flagged at 100, the number might expand and the occupation period extended beyond the planned August to October.
"In its previous homeless camp initiative (in 2020), the City had not been transparent nor truthful in its dealings with the community organisations and the general public," added Oostendurp.
The association demanded clarity from the City on the planned provision of services, such as medical and mental health care to the homeless; Covid-19 vaccination, isolation and quarantine facilities; and access to the facility by the media, law enforcement agencies, human rights organisations; costs involved and an exit strategy and date of closure.
The City said it approved an application for additional resources support by the Haven Night Shelter in line with its Winter Readiness programme.
Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the support would include the provision of blankets, mattresses, non-perishable food items and toiletries as well as Expanded Public Works Programme workers.
He said no funding was made available to The Haven Night Shelter.
"The Haven is an independent organisation, supporting the City and doing very good work in the accommodation and rehabilitation of persons living on the street. It’s disappointing that efforts to support and shelter vulnerable individuals who sleep rough on streets are being obstructed," Badroodien said.
Oostendurp emphasised that the community was not against "any initiative" to assist the less privileged, but decision-making and consultation should take place before any projects were approved.
"We are willing to address legitimate concerns," Khan said.