Town Centre is a homeless hotspot


The City of Cape Town says there are 133 homeless people in Mitchell’s Plain – Town Centre being the biggest hot spot with about 80 people sleeping on the streets in and around the CBD.

According to the City, Kapteinsklip station has about 35 people, Highlands Drive 10, Lentegeur eight and there are a few in Woodlands.

On Thursday April 7, about 20 organisations attended the Local Networks of Care (LNOC) annual general meeting at the Town Centre library, where LNOC members spoke about challenges they faced and the City of Cape Town’s street people programme, which was designed to help the homeless access social services and opportunities.

The LNOC, established in 2006, is one of the initiatives tied to the programme. This network of organisations and volunteers from across Mitchell’s Plain tries to prevent the vulnerable from ending up on the street and reintegrate those who have back into society.

LNOC chairwoman Carol Mentor said that while the street people programme was vital in Mitchell’s Plain, the City needed to do more to support those on the ground.

“One of the main challenges we are experiencing is the lack of support of the street people from programme officials, and it surprises me that they (City officials) are here today (Thursday). We are in need of funding, we are using our own money for transport, airtime for phone calls and stationery. The City said they would provide stationery, but we haven’t received it.

“Then, we do not have office space and it’s frustrating to move all the time. In order for us to assist the community effectively we need assistance and funding,” she said.

Keith Meyer from Making An Impact Through Sport (MITS) in Portland said he wanted to see more statistics as well as information about how his organisation could help.

“I would want to know who I am working with – youth or adults, male or female, so that we can develop a programme specifically for them. We are an NGO, so we can offer our services and not capital. However, I think it’s a great project,” he said.

Maude Nelson from LNOC appealed to organisations to register and join LNOC and assist the homeless.

“There are a range of homeless people out there, some have been on the streets for years and are in need of support. Your organisation can help them. It doesn’t matter what services you offer. For example, drug support, specialists in domestic violence, counselling, sport and even the arts.

“We also need the support of the City, this is not a registered organisation, it is a City initiative, we need funding to function effectively,” she said.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, says the number of homeless people in Mitchell’s Plain is growing – Town Centre was once the only hot spot, but now City field workers are profiling homeless people in other areas. She noted that some people on the streets were not homeless, but day strollers who begged for hand-outs during the day and then headed home at night.

Ms Little said the City had budgeted funding for LNOCs across the city, but it had been use for training and office supplies. Last year, members of all 20 of Cape Town’s LNOCs had received training in organisational development, capacity building and life skills. And in February a workshop had sought to iron out various concerns, including things like transport costs, phone bills and office space.

“The resolutions stemming from that workshop were tabled at the Homeless Agency Committee meeting on Thursday April 7. It includes revamping the LNOCs to ensure clear role identification and working relationships between them, the City’s reintegration unit and Social Development district offices,” she said.

Ms Little said people ended up on the street for several reasons.

“It is important to note that not all of them are homeless. Some of them have family problems, including domestic violence or substance abuse issues. Some are unemployed and have no income, others are job seekers from elsewhere in the country and some ran away from home,” she said.