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The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association has expressed its support for a 300-bed safe space which will accommodate homeless people.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the safe space would operate on a portion of municipal depot land on Ebenezer Road, Green Point, with operations set to begin early in the new year.

“Safe spaces offer dignified transitional shelter coupled with care interventions to help people find sustainable pathways off the streets, including referrals for addiction or psychiatric treatment, personal development planning, employment opportunities, ID and social grant access, and family reunifications.”

He said the shelter brought the total CBD safe space beds to around 780. Hill-Lewis said the City would spend R230 million over three years to operate safe spaces and expand these transitional shelters beyond the CBD and Bellville, as part of the most comprehensive suite of “care interventions” of any metro in South Africa.

“During the winter, the City further enabled several NGOs to add 300 more temporary bed spaces to cope with additional shelter demand, including the deployment of 184 EPWP workers to assist NPOs.

Hill-Lewis said the number of homeless people in the province is more than 9 700.

The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association’s Elizabeth Knight said their support of this shelter was based on their working experience with other safe spaces.

“This includes safe space 1 and 2, since they opened, as well as actively supporting the work done by the City’s Social Development Department.

“The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association is dependent on these structures in our quest to find solutions for the homeless living in our community.

“The anticipated opening of a 300bed safe space in Ebenezer Road is crucial to these efforts to assist more people off our streets. The safe spaces provide access to on-site social workers, personal development planning, social grant assistance, family reunification services, access to substance and alcohol abuse treatment, skills training, job-seeking assistance and access to EPWP work placement.

“In addition to accommodation and ablutions, they receive two meals a day. They are therefore receptive to the proposed shelter and agree that a safe space in the area will give us leverage to improve the lives of our homeless.

“We will continue to work closely with Peter Cookson and the managers of the safe space to try to ensure that the shelter will be a positive addition to our community.”

The founder of Outsider and advocate for the homeless Carlos Mesquita said the safe spaces weren’t as the mayor says, transitional.

“The definition of the transitional spaces should prepare you for the next big thing. The homeless will be employed in the EPWP programme for three or six months and then leave and then wait for another three months to get another contract.

“The safe spaces are not because the City and the mayor are worried about the homeless, it’s to accommodate those individuals that are on the programme so that more funding can be given.” – Mandilakhe Tshwete, Cape Argus

Originally published by the Cape Argus on 9 November 2023

Photo: City of Cape Town