Hand up instead of hand-out for homeless

2015-05-19 06:00

The budget for council’s winter street people programme has more than doubled.

The City of Cape Town’s social development and early childhood development directorate’s winter street people programme allows non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to apply for aid so that they can increase their capacity to deal with the influx of street people seeking shelter and assistance during winter.

The directorate has more than doubled its available budget for the programme this year, increasing the allotted funds from R280 000 last year to just over R600 000 this year.

The aid, in the form of food, blankets, mattresses and toiletries, is distributed in partnership with the Disaster Risk Management Centre and the Western Cape government’s department of social development.

Bed space at shelters is funded via the Western Cape government and the City liaises with the government regarding the additional demand on bed space during this period.

Last year, a total of 16 organisations qualified for aid, says Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development.

“We have already started procuring the goods and we are now finalising the application process for NGOs and other civic organisations who would like to apply for aid. There is an application form that stipulates the criteria the organisations would need to meet as well as the supporting documentation they need to provide,” she says.

“Once we have received the applications, we will conduct site visits to ensure that the information provided is correct, because we have to follow due process and ensure that public funds are spent responsibly.”

Applicants must be registered as non-governmental or non-profit organisations; have facilities where people can overnight and comply with all health and safety regulations. Applications close on Friday 29 May and forms are available online at www.capetown.gov.za/en/socialdevelop/Documents/Winter_Readiness_Application_Forms.pdf.

The City will also continue its day to day interventions aimed at reintegrating street people and preventing more people from migrating to the streets, Little says.

This includes outreach programmes by field workers to provide assistance to those who require emergency accommodation, social work services and rehabilitation services by directing them to one of the assessment centres across the city.

“We are dedicating significant resources to ensuring that our street people are well cared for this winter, but I appeal to them to make use of the shelters and assistance that is available,” she says.

“I also want to renew my appeal to members of the public to rather make a tangible difference in the lives of street people by giving responsibly and supporting a local shelter or NGO, or giving a street person in their area a hand up instead of a hand-out as the latter simply perpetuates the cycle of dependence and aggressive begging.”

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