City adds over 550 shelter beds this winter

13 Jun 2022 in Where We Govern

The City of Cape Town is working to add over 550 shelter beds this winter to help people off the streets. Four new dormitories are complete at City-run Safe Spaces in the CBD, while grant-in-aid funds are adding more beds at NGO-run shelters.

Over 430 beds are progressively being added to NGO-run shelters supported by the City’s Winter Readiness campaign budget (150) and grant-in-aid funding (280).

Increased capacity at the City’s Safe Space at Culemborg in the CBD brings the total new beds to 550 this winter across the metro.

The Safe Space model includes dignified shelter, comfort and ablutions, two meals per day, access to a social worker on-site, personal development planning, ID Book and social grant assistance, access to substance and alcohol abuse treatment, skills training, help finding a job, and access to EPWP work placement.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has inspected completed dormitory units at the City’s Culemborg Safe Space. The Mayor also conducted site visits for a potential new Safe Space in the Muizenberg area last week together with Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, Cllr Patricia van der Ross.

‘Plans are gaining momentum to expand the City’s Care Programme to help more people off the streets. Our first step was to direct an extra R10 million to more shelter beds this winter, more than tripling the grant-funding for NGOs. We’ve now also upped the Care Programme budget to R77 million for 2022/23. Over the next three years, R142 million will go to expanding and operating City-run Safe Spaces beyond the CBD and Bellville.

‘We are calling on Capetonians to help us Give Dignity by donating to recognised shelters and NGOs this winter. We can do more together to help people off the streets,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Care Programme

In the last year alone, from May 2021 – April 2022, the direct efforts of City officials have resulted in:

  • 860+ people helped off the streets, through shelter placements, reunifying families, and other forms of reintegration.
  • 1150+ people participating in development programmes at City-run Safe Spaces
  • 730+ EPWP work placements to help those staying at our Safe Spaces get back on their feet
  • 720+ referrals for social grants, identity documents, specialised care facilities, and substance abuse treatment – with an 80% Matrix programme success rate to address addiction as a key driver of why people end up on the streets.

This is aside from what civil society is achieving, and the City is planning to do much more together with NGO partners and the national and provincial governments, who together hold the constitutional mandate for welfare and homeless shelters.

With its R77m Care Programme in 2022/23, Cape Town is the only metro going above its municipal mandate to dedicate a social development budget to helping people off the streets sustainably.

Post-disaster approach to helping people off the streets

The two-year national state of disaster and related economic impact has led to unmatched levels of homelessness in the city, with many people sleeping in public places, including pavements, parks, road reserves, and under bridges.

Given this situation, only a unique and unprecedented response will help people off the streets and ensure that public places are available for wider public use.

The City of Cape Town is proactively dealing with this situation by:

Expanding City-run Safe Spaces beyond the CBD and Bellville

Stepping up efforts to assess the circumstances of those on the streets, and offer shelter or social assistance: City Social Development & ECD staff are currently busy with a city-wide process of conducting social assessments of those living on the streets. This includes the reasons for homelessness, physical and mental health, living conditions, sources of income. This will result in a referral for social assistance, which can include accommodation at a shelter or City-run safe space.

Obtaining court orders regarding the unlawful occupation of public places:

Where the PIE Act is applicable, the City will acquire the necessary court order, and ensure alternative accommodation at shelters or safe spaces has been offered, where this is just and equitable.

Contact the PECC for help with shelter placement

Any enquiries and/or complaints relating to persons on the street can be directed to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialing 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline. This channel is also available for after-hours enquiries about shelter space. The PECC will activate standby teams to help determine where shelter space is available and related admissions criteria.