Durban intervention on homeless people pays dividend


City’s plans to change lives of homeless people will continue beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the Municipality has provided temporary shelters for homeless people to combat the spread of Covid-19

THEKWINI Municipality’s intervention to alleviate the plight of homeless people in the City during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond, is starting to take shape. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the Municipality made a provision of temporary shelters for homeless people to combat the spread of Covid-19.

In the initial stages of the programme in March, the Municipality provided accommodation to over 1 500 homeless people who were housed in eight shelters. By the end of April, the Municipality had 12 shelters accommodating 1 704 people. The Municipality is working with government departments and non-government organisations on various interventions to ensure that the lives of homeless people are improved. These include the drug withdrawal management programme, reuniting them with their families and providing other necessities.

On 12 May, eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda gave a detailed update of the programme and revealed these successes:

• The Municipality reunited 30 people with their families as far as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Kimberly during the interprovincial period.
• Homeless people who are on the drug management programme are responding positively and their
withdrawal symptoms are being managed with the assistance of health practitioners.
• The Municipality identified safe sleeping spaces in the City and will continue using strollers building to accommodate about 200 women.
• The Municipality identified women who have great talent in sewing and beadwork.
• Plans are underway to engage the department of labour to establish a skills development programme to assist those with matric and post matric qualifications.

In a show of residents solidarity with the Municipality, a homeless UNISA student received a laptop and
cellphone donation after his plight was highlighted. The man has also received a job offer at a petrol station.

Mayor Kaunda reiterated that the City’s plans will continue beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. He added that the Municipality is working with social workers to reunite at least 40 percent of homeless people with their families. “These interventions are an indication that we remain committed in building a City that belongs to all who live in it, including homeless people. We urge residents to continue to work with us as we seek long-lasting solutions to the challenge of homelessness,” said Mayor Kaunda.

He said the Homelessness Task Team, led by eThekwini Deputy Mayor Councillor Belinda Scott will continue to engage weekly to deal with issues of homelessness across the spectrum.

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