The City of Cape Town is implementing new initiatives tailored to assist people who are homeless and living on the street.
Cape Town, South Africa – The release of the latest figures coincides with the launch of the ‘Give Dignity’ campaign, which the City has introduced to make it easier for the public to donate to shelters and organisations working with street people.
The City of Cape Town has verified the data for its latest enumeration which puts the street people population at an estimated 6 175, a decrease of 16% since the last count.
The study was conducted over 18 days in November 2018.
Four teams of enumerators moved through the city between 03:00 and 08:00 during this period, to conduct a count of people sleeping on the street. Shelters in the city also provided registers during the period, which helped ascertain how many people were using their facilities.
“The study was conducted to determine the number of persons living on the streets or shelters in our city, and to determine the hot spot locations. Cape Town is one of the few administrations with a street people policy and meaningful interventions for those who agree to it, but we cannot rest on our laurels. The social development findings of this enumeration will help determine if, and how, we need to augment the City’s existing social development interventions for street people.
Already, we have changed our mechanisms for how the public can assist, as the launch of the ‘Give Dignity’ campaign illustrates. In the past, we used to direct the public to shelters with donations, instead of direct handouts. With this new campaign, we are making drop off points available at all City libraries, to make it easier for those who want to donate,” said Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.
A breakdown of the numbers indicated that 3 999 persons were sleeping on the street and that 2 084 were using shelters. This figure is just over 16% lower than the figure arrived at during the last count in 2015. Our researchers have recommended more frequent counts that will better inform us of trends and other key indicators in this regard,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.
The survey identified the Cape Town Central Business District and surrounds, Mitchells Plain and Bellville as the areas with the largest street people populations.
Other key findings included:
- At least 64% of persons on the street are male
- Persons aged 26 – 45 account for just more than 60% of the street people population
- By race, just over 55% are coloured
- The majority of persons utilising shelters are male (78%), adults and reported to be predominantly coloured
Among the recommendations are:
- Initiatives tailored to assist newly homeless persons before they acclimatise to the streets
- The introduction of a crisis response system and emergency beds for newly homeless persons, with an established point of contact
- That future research happen more frequently
- Future initiatives should focus on the holistic development of street people to increase reintegration rates.
The City of Cape Town has an established track record when it comes to offering, and delivering on services to street people. Just recently, they marked the first anniversary of their first Safe Space, which was set up, in consultation with street people.
“Already, we are seeking to find funding and locations to replicate the project in other parts of the city. However, we are cognisant of the fact that homelessness is an immensely complex issue that many cities around the world grapple with.
While we set out to plot the way forward for Cape Town, we ask our residents to work with the City in finding lasting solutions. Most critical is to support our ‘Give Dignity’ campaign, which will ensure that donations are distributed to registered organisations working with street people and the City’s Safe Space for street people. It is a fact that indiscriminate handouts do more harm than good, as they keep people on the street instead of accessing the services that are available to them.
Our street people population statistics will enable all levels of government to make necessary policy changes aimed at increasing or improving initiatives to support those individuals who sleep rough in the city. We are excited to host the street people summit in October this year, in collaboration with our partners, which is sure to drive innovative policy solutions to addressing and supporting our street people,” added Councillor Badroodien.