Homeless under the spotlight again

Councillor Nora Grose speaking at the Greater Table View Action Forum meeting.

The City of Cape Town is tackling homelessness in Table View and elsewhere across the metro with a multi-pronged approach, ward councillor Nora Grose told a residents’ meeting last week.

The issue again came under the splotlight at the Greater Table View Action Forum (GTAF) meeting on Tuesday July 25.

GTAF chairwoman Karen Davis said she believed in working with the City of Cape Town instead of depending on it to do things for people.

“Fighting with the councillors doesn’t get us anywhere. They also have a job to do and it is as frustrating for them as it is for the community. It is better to work with them and take certain things into our own hands. We have to try and pick battles that we can win,” she said.

“One of our biggest issues is our vagrancy problem. And the littering and the rubbish that lies around here.”

Ms Grose told the meeting she was well aware of the situation in Table View.

“Homelessness is nothing new and will no doubt increase until we see employment and change in our economy. The challenge on hand is how do we, the City and communities, best manage these challenges? The greatest of all challenges is accommodation.”

While there were several shelters across the city, many homeless people were not prepared to use them for a range of reasons, she said.

Often shelters can’t take a whole family, which means some homeless people choose to stay together on the street instead of being split up.

Ankarien Oelofse, the chairwoman of non-profit Table View Angels, said they had been struggling for three years to run a halfway house in the area for the homeless.

“Homeless people are often displaced due to something happening in their lives or they are going through a financial crisis and get evicted. Often I will help these individuals and families to a safe place or reunite them with family. We do, however, do strict drug tests in all these cases,” she said.

Ms Grose said the City had various plans to tackle homelessness in the area.

“The one option I have tabled and currently working on is to document these individuals, to monitor their movement and reasons for why they move around the way they do.”

Another approach, she said, was to expose the homeless to rehabilitation and skills programmes and find job opportunities for them, either through the the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) or with the help of local businesses and the wider community.

Ms Davis said not all homeless people were in fact homeless. Some had homes but chose to come to Table View seeking opportunities in a more affluent area.

“We get the Department of Social Development involved and they speak to the vagrants and they say they come from Atlantis or Wolwerivier. Social Development take them home but in two weeks they are back here again.”

However, Ms Grose disagreed.

“This is not entirely true. I have dealt with many homeless individuals and none of them originate from Wolwerivier. From Atlantis yes, then again many of them are opportunists. They come to seek opportunities in the area in the week but weekends they go back to Atlantis only to see them descending onto Table View on a Monday again. Then there are some that have come from many areas far from Cape Town. Don’t forget the ‘nomads’ – they move wherever their path may lead,” she said.