News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Friday December 15th 2017

Homeless shelters full as World Cup attracts fortune seekers

Yugendree Naidoo

Mervin Drammat, 40, lived on the street for 26 years before he found shelter at the the Haven in District Six, where he has been for a year. But other homeless people seeking shelter are being turned away as shelters are overflowing. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso/WCNDestitute people from outlying areas are flocking to Cape Town in the hope of cashing in on the World Cup, and causing an overflow at shelters for the homeless, say social workers.

At the same time, shelters are increasingly under pressure from homeless people trying to leave the streets amidst what the homeless claim is a crackdown by the city resulting in increasing arrests, and the winter weather has its seasonal effect.

The City of Cape Town has been attempting to move homeless people off the streets through their Winter Readiness Plan for Street People but have denied claims of a clampdown prior to the World Cup, saying the main aim is to reunite people with their families.

But the city has foreseen an influx of destitute people flocking to Cape Town for the World Cup, indicated the Haven Night Shelter Welfare Organisation CEO Hassan Khan.

Khan said they had received an increase of R200 000 in funding from the city, above the usual R300 000, in order to cater for the foreseen influx, and for those who would be left behind afterwards.

Khan said the money is expected to buy eleven and a half tons of food, 304 mattresses, 1100 blankets, 500 space blankets and 1 200 toiletry packs.

He said the Haven accommodated people for a maximum of 90 days before they had to move on to alternative accommodation, and they were expecting an extra 500 people on to move through the 90-day programme, spending and average of 20 days each at the shelters. Last year the Haven’s shelters catered for just under 2000 people.

Elim Night Shelter manager Graeme Thompson said the demand for accommodation at their one shelter was on the increase due people coming into the city from from outlying areas.

Thompson said more people were taking their chances on the city streets due a combination of a recessionary economy and the hope that they could find opportunities from World Cup activities.

He said this year had been “unusual” so far as the shelter had already been “chock-a-block” during summer, whereas they usually were only full in winter and had beds to spare in the warm summer months.

And he said the attraction of the World Cup was putting further pressure on already scarce resources, added to which was the City’s drive to move homeless people off the streets.

Social worker at the Beth Rogelim Shelter, Debbie van der Merwe, said desperate people would “rather stay on the streets in the rain just to be in the city rather than in a warm home in some dorpie”.

“People from the Platteland are already roaming the City with stars in their eyes for the World Cup,” said Collette May, a counsellor at the Loaves and Fishes shelter.

The problem was that people got caught up in social ills such as substance abuse and prostitution and did not return home, said May.

Homeless Anselm Sauls, 29, said he arrived in Cape Town from Johannesburg two months ago and was initially turned away from the Haven Night Shelter in District Six as it was full.

“I spent the first two nights on the streets in the Gardens and Long Sreet before the security guard told me I must go to the Haven in Napier Street. But when I got there it was already full.”

He said he then approached the Haven in District Six but was turned away and told to come back the following morning.

He was eventually given a mattress to sleep on in the dining hall until a bed became available.

“But I preferred that (sleeping in the dining hall) than being on the streets because although I can handle sleeping in harsh elements, I needed to keep up personal hygiene. There are facilities here to do that,” he said. – West Cape News

Tags: 2010, capetown, fifa, haven, worldcup

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  1. [...] moved and arrested in the run-up to the event, and despite the influx of destitute people who today continue to migrate to cities hosting the [...]

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