Cape Town’s Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, has announced an increased commitment to supporting non-profit organization (NPO)-run homeless shelters across the city. The initiative is part of the Winter Readiness campaign, which provides temporary bed spaces in various shelters to assist the homeless population during colder months. Additionally, the campaign will deploy Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers to help alleviate the workload at these shelters for six months.
A Crucial Component of Cape Town’s Social Support System
Cape Town’s Winter Readiness Programme is an essential element of the city’s social support system for vulnerable populations. The initiative aims to provide immediate assistance to those in need, with a budget of R94,75m designated for the Street People programme in 2023/24. Cape Town is unique among South African metros in allocating a significant portion of its social development budget to help people off the streets.
Partnership with Non-Profit Organizations
The City has entered into Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with four registered non-profit organizations – Ubuntu Circle of Courage, U-Turn, TASP, and the Haven Night Shelter. These MOAs help facilitate the provision of non-perishable food, cleaning materials, hygiene packs, mattresses, linen, and blankets to the shelters, in addition to the temporary bed spaces.
Support from EPWP Personnel
The 184 EPWP personnel will assist non-profit organizations with general and administrative tasks, further supporting their efforts to help more people off the streets this winter. Mayor Hill-Lewis emphasized the importance of accepting social assistance as the best choice for promoting dignity, health, and well-being among homeless individuals.
A Broader Perspective
Working in conjunction with the City’s Street People Programme Unit, the Winter Readiness Programme complements ongoing efforts to facilitate access to social developmental services, shelter relocation, family reunification, and community reintegration for homeless individuals. In March 2023 alone, the unit recorded over 2,700 interactions with homeless individuals, successfully placing 206 people in shelters.
Investing in Safe Space Transitional Shelters
Over the next three years, the City of Cape Town plans to invest R230 million in expanding and operating its own Safe Space transitional shelters. These facilities currently offer approximately 700 beds across the Central Business District and Bellville, in addition to numerous social interventions aimed at reintegrating homeless individuals into society. A proposed 300-bed safe space in Green Point is currently under public review.
Supporting Vulnerable Groups
Councillor Patricia van der Ross, mayoral committee member for community services and health, praised the partnership between the City and the NGO sector, emphasizing the need for a broader perspective to truly appreciate the daily efforts involved in tackling a complex social challenge. The Winter Readiness Programme is just one of many initiatives the City has implemented to support vulnerable groups, demonstrating its continued commitment to addressing homelessness and related social issues.
Making a Meaningful Difference
Through the Winter Readiness Programme, the City aims to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives by helping them off the streets and providing access to essential services. With continued support and collaboration between the City and NPOs, Cape Town’s Winter Readiness Programme presents a promising approach to helping those in need during the winter months and beyond.