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Green Point residents and interested parties have until Monday 8 May to comment on the City’s plans to create a new Safe Space to help more people off the streets in the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard.

The proposed 300-bed Safe Space is located under the fly-over bridge on Ebenezer Road in the Green Point CBD.

Liz Knight, Co-chair of the Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (GPRRA), says there is a need for more bed space to accommodate people living on the street.

“I believe many come to Cape Town from neighbouring provinces in search of the facilities the City is offering. We see new faces every day in Green Point, but we also have to cater to those who have lived in our community for a while.

“Having a facility close to us will enhance our ability to convince people to seek help and accept the City’s services. Certainly, the City is planning to also have sections to accommodate couples and the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and others) community. With the right service provider, we believe the space will give us an opportunity to change lives.”

Knight believes that safe spaces are beneficial for people who are homeless. “GPRRA has personal experience working with the residents of Safe Space One and Two. They work as gardeners (in our parks and lanes) and car guards (GPRRA Street Safe Collective) and are encouraged to attend many development programmes.

Knight says at the safe spaces clients have access to key services.

“The Safe Spaces also have excellent social workers giving guidance to the residents. The result is that quite a few are in recovery and seeking permanent work. We believe in safe spaces for this reason.”

Jane Meyer, Mouille Point Ratepayers’ Association (MPRA) Co-ordinator, says the association believes the shelter will bring relief and alleviate the amount of people living on the streets in the area.

Meyer says over the past three years, CBD and Atlantic Seaboard have seen an increase in the number of people living on the streets. She says the establishment of a safe space is “a step in the right direction”.

“The proposed Green Point Safe Space is an appropriate size and it will be important that it accommodate single persons, couples, even some families as well as members of marginalised communities i.e. LGBTQIA+.

“The safe spaces do offer short-term shelter and more secure, longer-term accommodation remains an issue.

“The MPRA intends to submit a comment on the proposal circulated by the City and will be happy to engage further on the issue when it has finalised its comments.”

Meyer appeals to businesses and residents to comment.

“The MPRA encourages businesses and residents who live close to the proposed safe space to engage with the proposal in a constructive manner and to consider the needs of the homeless as well as the need to minimise the people making use of public spaces in the area for shelter.”

The City says Safe Spaces offer dignified transitional shelter to help people off the streets, coupled with programmes to promote reintegration into society, or reunification with families.

Additionally, addiction treatment, referrals for psychiatric treatment, personal development planning and employment opportunities are also on offer.

The City has increased its Safe Space budget by 62% over the next three years.

Around R230 million is projected to expand and operate these facilities within the CBD, Bellville, and various other economic nodes in the city.

The City has also raised its overall annual Street People programme budget to R95 million for 2023-’2024.

This is an increase of more than 23% year-on-year.

This budget is over and above the ongoing support the City provides to organisations assisting people living on the street, including grant-in-aid funding.

The two Safe Spaces at Culemborg in the east CBD offer 480 shelter beds across the facilities.

The new facility is set to increase capacity in the CBD area by a further 300 beds, with yet more new beds to follow as the City works to help expand NGO-run shelters operating on municipal-owned land in central Cape Town.

The City says it is further gearing up for an annual seasonal bed boost as part of its Winter Readiness Campaign 2023.

Safe Space capacity is set to increase in Bellville, Muizenberg and Durbanville in the coming months.

According to the City, it is making progress on re-purposing other municipal-owned sites in the metro, working with NGO partners, Central Improvement Districts and residents. – Kaylynnne Bantom, People’s Post

Originally published by the People’s Post on 18 April 2023

Photo: City of Cape Town