Place of safety on the cards for homeless

An example of the shelter in the Bellville.

A charity wants to build a homeless people’s shelter in Brackenfell.

Mould Empower Serve (MES), a Christian-based non-profit, is trying to muster public support for the R1.5 million project.

MES has four branches nationwide giving aid to the homeless and jobless. In Cape Town, it offers social services across the city, including Bellville, Durbanville, Parow, Scottsdene and Belhar.

At a Brackenfell Community Police Forum (CPF) meeting, last week, MES’s Cape Town branch manager, Lilly Franks, outlined the plan for the homeless “safe space” in Brackenfell.

The site for the shelter hasn’t been decided on, but Ms Franks urged the community to get involved, making donations and suggestions. She conceded that few were likely to want the shelter on their doorsteps.

People ended up on the streets for many reasons, she said, including unemployment, addiction, poor education and more. But anyone could become homeless.

“In all our branches of MES, we have seen people from all walks of life enter our shelters. This includes CEOs, managers or even people who had studied, but just because of life and circumstances they ended up on the streets with nothing.”

At the shelter, homeless people could have their dignity restored and be helped to earn a living and become productive members of society.

“Street people are not able to sleep at night as they fear for their lives, the safety of their belongings and the women get raped on the streets,” she said.

Ms Franks said handouts did not help the homeless; they only encouraged them to keep on begging.

MES uses food vouchers, bought by the public, that street people can redeem for a meal at Shiloh Synergy in Protea Heights.

“So a call to the community is, if you would like give, buy them a voucher but do not give handouts,” she said.

Nick van Rooyen, co-founder of Teahmo, a Brackenfell non-profit, said they had counted 120 homeless people in the neighbourhood.

Some lived under the bridge on the Old Paarl Road and Brackenfell Boulevard while others slept at the parking area near Brackenfell police station for safety.

“To have the safe space for the homeless created would be a sustainable alternative,” he said. “We would like people to support this initiative.”

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security and social services, said the City’s social development and early childhood development directorate would start doing a new a citywide headcount of street people from next month.

The last count, three years ago, had put the city’s homeless population at 7 000, he said.

“A team of field workers will be trained to do the headcount and will work closely with the Reintegration Unit,” he said.

“The findings will inform our street people programmes and social outreach going forward.”

He said the City was

“doing everything possible” to help the homeless get off the street and get back into society.

“We also have a multi-pronged approach to homelessness, which includes providing support to organisations and shelters that assist the homeless,” he said.