NGOs eagerly await PEP approval

Homeless people are employed through the Expanded Public Works Project (EPWP) and the Public Employment Programme (PEP).

The City of Cape Town has requested funding from National Treasury for the Public Employment Programme and NGO’s are eager to receive the funding as they have seen the benefits of PEP.

In 2020 the Presidency announced an Employment Stimulus Plan in response to the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The City was awarded R160 million for PEP, by the National Treasury.

Caryn Gootkin, the fundraiser for Soupertroopers, said 25 homeless people, connected to her NGO, had benefited from PEP. According to her statistics, 22 are no longer substances users, all of the 25 have been able to send money to their families and 20 of them no longer live on the streets.

“We have been told that there will be a new PEP contract which could run for two years but there is no guarantee as to when it will start.

“Apparently it has to do with when Parliament sits and approves the funding, so there could be a considerable gap between the end of August when the rollover funding ends and the start of the new contract which could start in November or in January,” said Ms Gootkin.

She added that they were concerned about the possible gap as the homeless people who had now benefited from the programme could be unsettled by this possible cutback.

The chief executive officer of U-Turn, Jean-Ray Knighto Fitt, agreed with Ms Gootkin, adding that the uncertainty could destabilise the homeless people who had made progress within the PEP.

“It can be very traumatic for some homeless people to start over again,” he said.

“They think they are going somewhere with their lives and then they are back on the streets. The will to try again is that much less and that’s our concern,” said Mr Knighton-Fitt.

“There have been assurances from the City that it will continue and I hope so but there’s a lot of questions marks regarding this right now,” he added.

The City is aware of the impact of PEP funded programmes that have created more than 3 000 temporary work opportunities for residents.

“We are aware that many people continue to struggle with the devastation of a two-year pandemic, compounded by ongoing economic woes,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for urban waste management, Grant Twigg.

“The City is doing all it can to assist these vulnerable residents, and the funding that was made available by national government during the pandemic to stimulate job creation and economic opportunities has been used to good effect thus far.

“We hope to continue the very valuable projects that have come about because of the PEP funding, and that is why we are engaging with National Treasury on the way forward and hopefully unlocking additional funding,” he added.

Among the projects that were included in the PEP programme were:

  • Alien vegetation clearing in Atlantis
  • An illegal dumping clean-up campaign
  • Fire prevention marshal project
  • An addiction and reintegration support programme for homeless persons