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Cape homeless shelter talks fall flat

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Attempts by the city council to reduce the number of homeless people have hit a brick wall after negotiations to secure a building where people would be kept, fell flat.

The mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, Suzette Little, said they had gone back to the drawing board after talks to secure the building in Milnerton fell apart.

According to the 2014/15 Street People Survey, the city’s homeless population exceeded 7 000.

Little said the municipality would push ahead with its plan to open a so-called restoration centre, which, she said, was one way officials were looking at reducing the number of homeless people.

“We would like to provide facilities with services designed to address the medium – to long-term needs and development of street who want assistance.

“We aim to put participants in touch with various social and other services and monitor their progress until they are ready to be reintegrated or reunited with their families.”


However, this would be easier said than done as the majority of the homeless were apparently refusing to be assisted.

“More than 70 percent of people we interviewed refused our help. They told us, we earn more money living on the streets than we would at a centre’,” said Little.

She appealed to people not to support the homeless and instead donate to NGO’s, churches or mosques.

“You find that people sometimes think they are helping by giving away an old washing machine, for an example, to a homeless person whereas, in fact, they are not. It will just end up dumped somewhere.

“We must allow people to get help. If it’s too much of an effort to find an NGO, then simply don’t give.”

Little said plans for the restoration centre would be finalised in three months .

“We have two other sites that we are looking at,” she said, “but at this stage I can’t reveal where they are. What I can say is that it’s not out of Cape Town. Those are all lies.”

The Street People’s Forum (SPF) in Cape Town was critical of the council’s plan.

SPF convener Greg Andrews said they have not been made aware of the restoration centre.

“The fact that the city council is planning a new intervention without having talked to the SPF is yet another indication that the city has little interest in cultivating a relationship with its NGO partners despite protestations to the contrary in the media.

“If the city is serious about addressing the problem of chronically homeless individuals on the streets, it should take it’s own research more seriously,” Andrews said.

Little said: “We work with all forums and with all NGO’s. The SPF is more than welcome to meet us.”

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