A study last year found 14,000 people living on the streets of Cape Town. There are only 2,500 beds in the shelters. (File photo: Masixole Feni)
This simplistic tale of helping reduce homelessness by simply donating to a group of shelters is bad.
First published by GroundUp.
Almost everyone seems to have an opinion on homelessness in Cape Town with around 14,000 people sleeping on the city’s streets and in its shelters at night. These numbers are The costs of roaming study that took place before the full effect of the pandemic was felt. Yet there were only around 2,500 refuge beds in Cape Town. The difference between these two figures explains the enormity and the nature of the problem.
So there are at least 10,000 more homeless than there are shelter beds, and that gap is widening. This means that even if temporary accommodation in an overnight shelter were a perfect solution to homelessness (which is not for a multitude of reasons), there would still be thousands of people who would escape the shelter model. existing.
Cape Town is framing the issue in a way that ignores these startling numbers. His oft-repeated party line is, “If you want to support someone on the streets, donate to a registered homeless shelter” and “We want you to reconsider your relationship with the Cape Town street community. and join the campaign to “Give Dignity” ”. Both quotes are from the City’s website.
If you then follow the hyperlink to the “Give Dignity” page, you see: “Donating to a good cause is as easy as scanning the SnapScan QR code below with your mobile phone”. When you scan the QR code (next to which you will find the words: “In good hands, your donation goes further”), you are redirected to the SnapScan fundraising page of the Haven Night Shelter campaign.
The message from Cape Town to Cape Town people who are concerned about the plight of the homeless is that the way to ‘give dignity’ or ‘support a person on the street’ is to put your money in ‘de good hands ”- The Haven Overnight Shelter.
This simplistic tale of helping reduce homelessness by simply donating to a group of shelters is bad. What about the thousands of people who cannot be accommodated by The Haven Night Shelter? The City’s position leads the public to believe that there are enough shelter beds to accommodate all homeless people and that the only reason people live on the streets is because they choose not to go to the city. shelter. This gives credit to those who want the homeless to be removed from their suburbs and streets.
The problem is simply transferred onto the shoulders of the homeless.
It is blatantly obvious to anyone walking the streets of Cape Town that whatever the city is currently doing to tackle the problem of homelessness is simply not working.
First, we must not accept that the refuge model is the ideal solution. The current model is based on strict paternalistic rules and regulations with punitive consequences for non-compliance. This does not allow shelter residents to organize themselves throughout their lives as they strive to become self-reliant. It is a top-down model rather than a model in which homeless people have the opportunity to self-organize.
Second, we need to focus on helping people for whom there are no shelter beds while lobbying the City to rethink the current shelter model. In the short term, we need to help those who still live on the streets and those who live in the shelter system to access developmental services to help them improve their lives.
Several organizations are already doing this: Streetscapes, U-Turn Homeless Ministries, Souper Troopers and The Humanity Hub, to name a few. Each of these organizations provides services and manages programs to help homeless people take the steps they need to get their lives back on track. They work with each person as an individual and tailor the support to their needs.
Homeless people trust these organizations to make this difficult journey with them precisely because they are independent from municipal structures and from taxpayers and business organizations, which necessarily have a different mandate.
While we wait for the City to rectify the current shelter model, support these organizations and others like them and convince your friends, neighbors, family, colleagues, WhatsApp groups and Facebook friends to do the same. Follow them on social media, visit their websites, reach out to them to learn more about their models and programs and how you can help them. The more support they get, the more people they can reach. It is that simple. DM
Caryn Gootkin is a word creator and fundraiser for Supper Troopers NPO.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of GroundUp.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-01 12:56:57