*GOOD CALLS ON SOUTH AFRICANS TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND SUPPORT VULNERABLE PEOPLE ON WORLD HOMELESS DAY*
STATEMENT BY BRETT HERRON, GOOD MEMBER OF WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT AND GOOD SECRETARY-GENERAL
The 10th October 2019 is World Homeless Day.
The purpose of World Homeless Day is to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and to provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness.
Government and political leaders can do more.
On this World Homeless Day we should consider the rights, dignity, and needs of those who live homeless and our governments should be working to address homelessness in a manner that assists those who are homeless to find a pathway out.
There are many reasons why people become homeless. For some it may be a temporary situation; for others, their homelessness can last for years or a lifetime.
To start with no government or political leader should exercise an enthusiasm for criminalising those who are homeless.
The fining of homeless people in Cape Town is ill-considered and futile. There is a shortage of shelter space and it is not possible for every homeless person to find shelter.
The harassment of homeless people by fining is exacerbated by the cruel and unnecessary confiscation of their meagre belongings.
I appeal to each resident in Cape Town and the province not to be misled by the lies and fake news regarding the issue of homelessness in the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province.
In an attempt to justify the fining some politicians have lied to the national media. They have stated that there are enough shelters, but the data shows that this is untrue.
In the Western Cape, the Department of Social Development has confirmed that there is a shortage of thousands of shelter spaces.
Our towns and cities should be a home for all and our focus, budget and activities should be geared to ensuring a broad programme of inclusion. Towns and cities need policies that address homelessness in an attempt to prevent and reduce this.
This requires a proactive policy approach that recognises the complexities of street homelessness and seeks collaboration to work towards reintegration, reduction and prevention.
Laws that criminalise homelessness are not the solution – as is quite evident by the growing number of people who find themselves homeless and living on the streets.
Each one of us can make a difference.
As residents with some means we can provide support to local shelters.
As governments our Social Development departments can ensure that there are sufficient shelters for our vulnerable brothers and sisters – whether this be for the homeless, children and women at risk, or those feeling violence in their homes, neighbourhoods or home countries.
Funding for shelters, for all of these needs, cannot be whatever is left over in the budget.
We can create a safer, more caring city and province by looking after those who find themselves unable to look after themselves.