Residents urged to help the homeless

Residents raised concerns about the homeless people living in tents near the Sea Point police station

Help vulnerable homeless people get back to their homes and communities, says Haven night shelter CEO, Hassan Khan.

He was speaking at a virtual community meeting organised by members of the Atlantic Seaboard Action Group last week to discuss ways to deal with homeless people living in Sea Point and Green Point.

Sea Point resident and member of the Atlantic Seaboard Action Group, Paul Jacobson, said he used to give handouts to homeless people until he met Mr Khan who told him that this was not a solution.

Mr Khan said it was heartbreaking to see so many people living on the streets and camping on pavements.

He said people do not choose homelessness, but circumstances conspire to make them believe that they have no place in the world.

“Each one of us has a place to go to and I would like to encourage people to find vulnerable people among those who live on the streets and help them. It is possible,” he said.

He said residents need to assist by trying to help the homeless reach out to their families and if that is not possible, they must make use of safe spaces such as the Haven night shelter which have different branches across the province.

“Help them apply to the safe spaces, at the safe spaces, people are prepared for their journey back home,” he said.

He said the Haven night shelter offers social work services and all the needs of homeless people are met at shelters.

“Let us help homeless people home. In order to find the vulnerable, we must make the distinction between who is vulnerable and who is simply opportunistic or engaging in criminal activity,” he said.

He said a vulnerable homeless person is somebody who genuinely believes that they don’t have any option but to live on the streets. He said the province has field workers from various organisations including the City who can identify the homeless and offer them assistance.

“In the Haven night shelter, we have 87 beds available. The spaces are there, as people leave more spaces become available. The preparation time must start with identifying the vulnerable and help them home,” he said.

Ward 115 councillor, Ian McMahon, stated: “Through discussions such as these, and to garner community understanding, is another foot forward in the strive to be a better, more understanding community in our city.”

Residents have been raising concerns about the increase in homeless people living near the Sea Point police station (“Residents raise concerns over homeless ’invasion’”, Atlantic Sun, February 11).

They feared the situation was becoming out of hand and that more people were moving on to the land daily.

Law Enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason said they have regularly responded to complaints about anti-social behaviour related to street people.

He said the situation in the area was further complicated because street people in the area were being sustained by members of the community and members of other communities who came in daily to feed people and donate tents, clothing, blankets and various other items to those who have gathered in the area.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien appealed to the public to refrain from direct handouts, and to instead invest their time, effort and donations in registered shelters and NPOs who work with street people.

A homeless person who lives on the council land, Ayanda Mveku, said he was one of the first people to move to this space. “A lot has changed and a lot is happening here. I know they want to evict us, but going back home is not an option for me,” he said.

Another person living there is Lizahn Venters who said the field workers come to the area daily but nothing is being done to help them find safer spaces.

“No one wants to live on the streets and shelters are expensive. The streets are no one’s home but where are we going to go?”