Help for homeless paid by City

2015-06-09 06:00

Funding for fieldwork to help street people in ward 77 is being redirected to other projects.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant says the funding, allocated from the ward budget of R700 000, will end in the next financial year.

“The extra fieldworker has been, up until now, paid via a portion of funding from the ward allocation budget. Ward allocation funding is used for a variety of projects in specific wards,” he says.

The City of Cape Town’s social development department has made a commitment to provide increased resources to assist the homeless, which includes the provision of more fieldworkers, Bryant explains.

“This means that there will still be fieldworkers available and operating in the ­area; it is the funding model which will essentially be changing,” he says.

The City’s social development and early childhood directorate has more than doubled its available budget for the winter programme this year, increasing the allotted funds from R280 000 last year to just over R600 000 this year. The aid comes in the form of food, blankets, mattresses and toiletries, to be distributed in partnership with the disaster risk management centre and the provincial department of social development.

The City will continue its interventions aimed at reintegrating street people and preventing more people from migrating to the streets. This includes outreach programmes by fieldworkers to those who require emergency accommodation, social work services and rehabilitation. In December, the City also launched its reintegration unit, specifically tasked with helping streetpeople return to their communities of origin if they so choose.

There is some funding left over from the existing ward allocation budget which means that an extra fieldworker will still be operating for the next two months, Bryant says.

“The current fieldworker has done a superb job in the face of massive challenges over the past two years. Unfortunately, a fieldworker’s success rate is extremely low in general, due mainly to addiction issues and a variety of other difficulties facing members of the homeless community,” he says.

Cape Town Central Community Police Forum spokesperson Nicola Jowell says the fieldworker played a vital role in monitoring, documenting and attempting to help the many homeless people in the areas around the CBD.

“It is exceptionally difficult to properly account for the successes of the fieldworker as often it can be a process of years before a person is assisted off the streets. It was also an exceptionally onerous role for one person to take on, with perhaps not the full spectrum of resources at his disposal,” she says.

The most complaints the organisation received were related to homeless people.

“It is essential that the issue is tackled with an emphasis on the long-term assistance for the homeless. Failing that, we are left with a law enforcement response which does not yield any long-term sustainable solutions. We optimistically view this move as a positive one and hope that the social development department will rise to the challenge by providing adequate numbers and resources to meaningfully address the problem,” she says

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