Latest study finds over 6,000 people living on the streets of Cape Town

Mayor Plato says there is a need for more safe spaces for homeless people

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Photo of a row of beds
The Culemborg Safe Space provides up to 230 beds, water, showers, lockers and toilets. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

According to a study concluded in November 2018, there were 6,175 people living in shelters and on the streets of the City of Cape Town. Most were males between the ages of 26 and 45. The majority lived in central Cape Town, Mitchells Plain and Bellville.

Addressing an audience, most of whom were homeless, together with the media and other stakeholders at the Culemborg Safe Space, Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, said that 2,084 of 6,175 homeless people had access to shelter spaces. Of those using the shelters, 78% were men. 64% of the people counted as homeless were men.

The last count in 2015 found 7,383 homeless people.

In answer to a question from GroundUp, Badroodien said that the frequency with which the counts are done has not been discussed, but that the five-year gap between counts was too long. “It is vital that we have an annual understanding of what our successes and non successes are,” he said.

He explained the enumeration process conducted in the early hours of the morning: “We’ve got a researcher with a team that works with our partners, like law enforcement and shelters, that conducts an observational cohort study where they count the number of street people that access the shelters and sleep in the street. We know who these people are. We make sure that we do not recount people. It’s a complicated process where we count, engage and estimate.”

At the release of the study results, there were food kitchens, health stations testing for HIV and blood pressure, and live music.

The Culemborg Safe Space, launched in July last year, is an overnight sleeping facility, an initiative of the City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department. It is intended to take strain off the shelter system as well as to help people reintegrate with society or their families. The safe space provides up to 230 beds, water, showers, lockers and toilets, of which two are for people with disabilities.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato, who also addressed the crowd, said there was a need for more safe spaces.

TOPICS:  Housing Society

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