The influx of homeless people (and the pseudo homeless) into Muizenberg this winter has been alarming. When you add roaming street children, drug dealers and criminals into the mix it can get messy and highly contentious.
Those intent on toxic charity will defend their right to feed everyone without distinction, so even people who have homes to go to continue to sleep on the street, knowing that food and liquor will be delivered to them by well-meaning people. Residents living in Muizenberg are quick to point out that those bringing the food are often from outside the village area and so don’t see the problems they leave behind.
If hand outs are perpetuating the problem, how do you give a meaningful hand up? How do you alleviate the unhygienic and anti-social behaviour?
The situation is nothing new and the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) has taken a hard look at the interventions it has tried to date and the need to make changes to its social development strategy.
Everything the MID implements around social development and public safety focuses on improving the lives and experience of people on the streets of the MID. We need to find a way to decriminalise the plight of homeless people, because being without a home is not a crime. However, using the homeless as cover is a crime of social injustice by the pseudo homeless to continue their thriving business on the streets.
While the MID Social Development programme has resulted in 12 homeless people being rehomed and reintegrated into society, another 4 have unfortunately died on the streets of Muizenberg. Reintegration means assisting those who want to be reunited with their families, taking them to a shelter as a starting point, or helping them to find work. The challenge is that long-term homeless are usually not motivated to get off the streets. Most have severed ties with their families and shelters have rules like no alcohol or drugs which they do not want to comply with. Plus, because their goal is to foster self-accountability, shelters are often not free. This poses a dilemma for some of our Muizenberg homeless when they have to give up the majority of their grant to the shelter when they are not always supported to reduce their addiction to alcohol.
The City of Cape Town has emphasized the importance of aligning social development strategy in special rating areas (SRAs) with that of the City. However, the MID provides top-up services only and in dealing with homeless people and street children it often lacks on-the-ground support from the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Dept. of Social Development.
While reintegration has been achieved with some Muizenberg street people, there is agreement that homeless issues require the support of a social worker who can drive communications, reporting and follow up support requests. This will enable the MID to better work with and hold the City and Provincial departments to account for service delivery. In this way the MID can offer strategic support and implementation of a workable protocol.
In response, the MID has begun working strategically with the Kalk Bay St James and the Fish Hoek special rating areas to grapple with these social development concerns at a “Far South” level.
On 1 August 2016, the MID contracted two field workers trained through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and on 1 October 2016, Social worker Marion Thomas will commence her contract in the Muizenberg area. Marion is already contracted by the Kalk Bay St James SRA and can help synergise implementation strategies for social development within “Far South SRAs” and with City and Provincial departments. These appointments were supported by a grant of R15 000 from the NGO Safer Together.
None of these interventions can happen in isolation.
All are integrally related to the overall mandate of the MID to improve the district through cleaning, environmental upliftment, social development and public safety.
MID members are encouraged to stay close to the work of the MID and may attend the public sessions held directly before each monthly board meeting. See dates here: http://www.mid.org.za/2016-board-meeting-dates/
Issued by Marion Wagner, Social Development Director, MID