Resident wants to start street peoples’ forum

Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association treasurer Neville Hitchcock says council’s programme for street people “is not working” – and he’s told them as much.

At last week’s ratepayers’ meeting, Mr Hitchcock said he wants to start a street people forum in Goodwood to deal with the issue of homelessness in the suburb.

“The City’s street people programme is not producing any results and I have challenged them on that,” he said at the meeting on Thursday June 29.

He said the forum he is proposing would engage all levels of government “to come up with a programme that will work.”

Mr Hitchcock, who has been involved with Elim Night Shelter, in Elsies River, for many years, said he could see no light at the end of the tunnel with what council is doing.

“Even if they can get all the people to go to shelters, there isn’t enough space at the shelters for them”, he said.

In May council announced its donation of winter aid to 16 organisations, including Elim and The Haven nigh shelters (“Shelters get winter aid from City”, Northern News, May 24). It gave food, blankets, mattresses and toiletries to the value of 700 000 to the organisations.

At the Sub-council 4 meeting on Thursday June 22, a member of the City of Cape Town’s street people programme told councillors that 75 percent of street people rejected offers of assistance (“Homeless ‘just shifted around”, Northern News, June 28).

Vijen Rugbee from the street people programme conceded that law enforcement operations to remove street people were not achieving lasting results. Instead they were just moving the problem around from one place to another.

At last week’s ratepayers’ meeting, Mr Hitchcock said he hoped to have a street people forum up and running by August to get people off the streets and rehabilitated “where they can be a proper citizen of the country again,” he said.

Mr Hitchcock said a “more aggressive approach” was needed to get people off the streets “even if it’s against their will”.

He said street people should be taken to a place where they could be rehabilitated, instead of living on the streets “where there are no rules and regulations to abide by”.

Ward 26 councillor, Franchesca Walker handed the presentation delivered to Sub-council 4, to the ratepayers. She said she had been part of three City campaigns “with cleaning up and removal of vagrants”.

According to the presentation, with statistics from 2015, there are 7 383 homeless people in the city, 4 862 on the street and 2 521 living in shelters.

Mr Hitchcock also questioned the Safe Space facility recently opened in Bellville which can accommodate 50 to 70 people during the day, and 20 to 40 overnight (“Safe space opens its doors in Bellville”, Northern News, June 14).

The Safe Space in the old scout hall in AJ West Street, is run by Mould Empower Serve. There are plans to open another Safe Space in Culemborg, in the city centre, by October. “Isn’t it going to encourage people to stay on the streets,” Mr Hitchcock wanted to know.

Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association chairman Brian Lawson raised concerns about severe staff shortages at law enforcement, making it impossible to deal with the issue. “After 4pm you won’t find law enforcement around”, Mr Lawson said.