Solution to rising number of homeless – and deep social exclusion in the cities

People in the major cities in South Africa are daily confronted by an increasing number of people living on the streets.

The cold and wet conditions in the winter have led to unimaginable suffering – and deaths – of our fellow human beings dying on pavements. The lack of effective and human solutions evokes strong feelings as the sight often leaves one not knowing how to best respond.

Unlike often thought, the promising results from Streetscapes project show that there is an alternative to institutional solutions that tend to be costly and short term – and not capable of addressing the need to assist street people to exit life on the streets sustainably. A shift from emergency relief to prevention and long-term recovery support may be needed.

Homelessness is not one problem but often an outcome of many lifelong problems. It is often linked to mental illness and substance misuse that has a high cost to society as well as the individuals. Single approach such as criminalizing aspects of homelessness or relying only food kitchens will not solve the problem. It is generally accepted that a basket of services and partnerships are needed – and key is to involve the street people population in the solution.

Streetscapes is bridging the gap between family level poverty, lack of entry level jobs and potential of green economy in an effort to reduce the growing challenge of homeless people in Cape Town. It supports the street person to find their own solutions to their problems. And its proving sustainable.

Although Streetscapes provides work opportunities in its three organic urban gardens, being part of the project is more a life style than a job. The work is combined with mental and physical health support, counseling services, assistance with accommodation and outreach to reconnect the beneficiaries with their families. It provides income but also daily routine and dignity. It is a vital and proven portal to navigate the homeless out of poverty and support their transition towards meaningful lives.

Streetscapes beneficiaries report an improved mental & health state, reduced use of substances, ability to reconnect with family, a sense of purpose in life, able to earn an income and pay tax, as well as being part of a supportive network and giving back by helping others.

The key is to build agency, not institutional dependency.

Streetscapes demonstrates that people living on the streets are highly motivated to work and re-build their lives. After six months of earning R2,400.00 per month, 77% of the beneficiaries had moved off the streets and 68% had addressed their drinking and/or drug use. A significant 73% have found employment either at the garden or through being involved in the project.

Benefits to residents, business owners and the city of Cape Town include: a reduction in cost to the tax payer as the homeless become tax-paying and contributing members of society, the reoffending rate of these individuals dropped from 85% to 11% which reduces tax payer costs in terms of arrest, court room and prison stay expenses, and area’s in social decline are turned into beautiful areas where residents now eagerly visit.

The public can support by buying direct – fresh 100% pesticide free veg from both our gardens every week day 8am -3.30pm and Saturdays 9am – 12pm or they can purchase our produce from Granger Bay OZCF market. There will be a market stall by mid-July in Roeland street garden that has ‘ready-to-go-home-with-you’ bundled veg available daily 9-3 pm. Payments can be made via cash, snap scan, or previously arranged EFT.

Visit Streetscapes Roeland Garden: corner Roeland and Drury Streets (Left side of Food Lovers Market)

Phone: Zoliswa, Supervisor, 076 331 2993 / Manager Jesse 083 700 6064

Visit Streetscapes Trafalgar garden, Trafalgar High school, corner Philip Kgosana Drive and Kuyper street (entrance through drive in gate opposite 25 Kuyper Street)

Phone: Shamiela, Supervisor 071 688 8651 / Manager Jesse 083 700 6064

Or support businesses who support us –

Doppio Zero, restaurant, St George’s Mall, Danny Dilberto, Manager, 073 720 8088

House of H, restaurant, Loop Street, Heinrich Koen, Owner, 079 083 9332

Oranjezicht market, Granger Bay, Sheryl Ozinsky, Owner, 083 628 3426

For more information or to arrange interviews for Streetscapes please contact Jesse Laitinen Ph: 083 700 6064

For more information on Khulisa Social Solutions please contact Lesley Ann van Selm,  Ph:  082 601 2299

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