New shelter for homeless people in Muizenberg

The site for a 60-bed “Safe Space” is still being finalised

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A “Safe Space” like this one in Durbanville is planned for Muizenberg. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • Muizenberg is to get a 60-bed “Safe Space” shelter for homeless people.
  • The shelter will be co-funded and operated by the City of Cape Town and U-turn.
  • A site is still to be finalised.

Funding has been approved to create a new shelter for homeless people in Muizenberg, Cape Town. This will be the sixth “Safe Space” in the city.

The City of Cape Town says the Mayoral Fund will contribute R4-million for the shelter and welfare organisation U-turn will raise a further R4-million from donors.

The shelter will be operated in partnership with U-turn, which already operates a shelter in Claremont and offers social services and meals at several centres in the city.

A site for the shelter is still to be finalised, after which a public participation process will begin.

The City told GroundUp, “Every area in Cape Town that experiences the challenges faced by homeless people needs a transitional safe space for their relocation out of public places, off the streets and back into society.”

The City’s Safe Space programme offers two meals a day and access to social workers, skills training, work placement and family reunification.

“We need something in the area,” said U-turn CEO Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt.

He said U-turn wants to develop a more “comprehensive response to homelessness across the city”.

Fitt said that the shelter is expected to have 60 beds, with separate dormitories for men and women. Children will not be accommodated, but an emergency unit for families is under consideration. When GroundUp asked Fitt about dogs, he said pets are not part of the plan, though this is an issue which frequently comes up at U-turn.

Fitt says the shelter has been met with resistance from some Muizenberg residents. Some think the safe space will attract more homeless people, when in fact “we’re taking people off the streets”. With access to a shelter, he says, homeless people will not have to be “fighting for survival” and will be more likely to be able to move off the streets.

“Off the streets in the day. Off the streets in the night … and ultimately, off the streets in the long term,” he said.

Fitt estimates that there are between 400 and 500 homeless people between Retreat and Fish Hoek. He hopes that the safe space will be completed by the end of the year, as this will “make a big impact on the Muizenberg area”.

“Community engagement will make or break this project,” said Simon Roberts, chair of the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID). He said the MID supports the shelter but a site should be chosen that does not affect tourism or local economic activity. The MID has suggested that the site should be chosen through a public participation process and a data-driven approach.

GroundUp spoke to people who came for lunch at the U-turn Service Centre in Muizenberg.

Geremy Gordon said he has been living in the mountains in Muizenberg for 15 years and has never been to a shelter as they are always full. He said a shelter in Muizenberg “will be great” and he will use it.

Logan Patel, who is no longer homeless, said she stayed in shelters several times and it was helpful. “There are a lot of people who are trying to get out and there are no spaces in the shelters,” she said.

The other City-run Safe Spaces include one in Durbanville, one in Bellville, and two in Culemborg. A new shelter is to open in Greenpoint in July. There are 37 shelters registered on the Western Cape government website.

TOPICS:  Homeless

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

Very happy to read about these premises opening for homeless folk to be sheltered; a very necessary cause. Do hope they are monitored etc, as previously many homeless felt safer on the streets - the fear being bullied, robbed, etc by others in the shelters.
Thank you for treating the homeless like human beings. ❤️‍🩹

Dear Editor

I am writing this letter because I have been in the system for more than ten years. People need to understand that the welfare system is the biggest problem regarding the homeless. They treat us like we are nothing. There is no respect, no compassion. We are treated as filth. All they do is to recycle people from one shelter to the other.

Let me explain my experience: recently I was approached by a field worker that was employed by the City of Cape Town. This lady took my details and took photos of my identity card, and I told her my story. She told me that I must come and see them at the office at the Golden Acre, which I did. Arriving there I was told that all the shelters and Safe Space 1 and 2 were full, so I left. I returned three times. On the third time I was told that they don't deal with people over 65 and that I should go and see the social workers in Victoria Street next to the gardens, which I did.

Arriving there I found two other pensioners that came with the same problem. This social worker addressed us all in the waiting room in front of the security officer. There was no privacy, no respect for our personal information. The way she did it was with ignorance and laughter from her side. For elderly people, living on the street is dangerous, cold and uncomfortable with no freedom. All three of us were well-dressed and clean. I, for instance, don't smoke nor drink - same with the other two. She wanted to send us to Safe Space 2, I believe. People sleep outside and the conditions were terrible - that is why people leave there every day. That is why space is available.

How do you leave pensioners among gangsters and drug addicts? This happens in all the shelters. There is no respect for the elderly. I am a semi-skilled electrician and found a job six years ago while I was in Kensington shelter. I lost my job due to covid and could not find a job due to my age and the Equity Act. I lived at Good Hope Exchange Shelter in Roeland Street where I paid R1,300 pm.

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