On 23 March 2022, DPV Outreach held its inaugural meeting at the Service Dining Rooms, Canterbury Street. The event was featured in the media, including a report by James Stent of Ground Up: Cape Town suburb tries new approach to homelessness. Here are our top takeaways from the meeting:
1. Homelessness as a symptom of social and economic issues, rather than ‘the problem’
Jon Hopkins of U-Turn presented the results of the research undertaken as part of the Cost of Homelessness in Cape Town (February 2020) study. For the study, 350 people from across greater Cape Town were interviewed to quantify the main causes driving people from their homes onto the streets and to understand the range of causes and how to respond to them effectively.
The study found three main reasons for homelessness:
- life circumstances (44%),
- lack of support (30%), and
- unemployment (32%).
2. More than R744 million/year spent on addressing homelessness
Money spent on homelessness falls into three main categories:
- Compassionate (handouts and donations): R286 million/year (39%),
- Reactive (prison, court proceedings, legal fees): R355.3 million/year (42%), and
- Developmental: R121.9 million 16%).
Research has shown that the most effective response (long term results for individuals) to addressing homelessness is the developmental approach.
3. There is no single solution to homelessness: a multi-pronged approach is needed
A multi-pronged approach identifies what an individual experiencing homelessness needs and then assists with identifying what the correct response is for that person to build resilience and interrupt those factors, whether circumstantial or behavioural, that result in that individual person living on the street.
4. Social investment in people gives results, but it’s not ‘quick and easy’
Both U-Turn and Streetscapes focus on an integrated developmental approach to addressing the causes of homelessness and to empowering people experiencing homelessness to reintegrate with their families. Streetscapes, in particular, focuses on the ‘behavioural health’ of an individual in order to enable them to combat destructive behavioural patterns that stand in the way of being able to earn money. Programmes include rehabilitation, work readiness training, basic life skills and trauma counselling and physical wellness.
5. Leading by example: Chantel and the Outreach/Streetscapes team
Chantel Sampson, employed by Streetscapes, mentors a team of 13 clients who are part of a government-funded employment programme. The team, consisting of 13 people under the supervision of Yonelani Dingayo, have been working in the Vredehoek/Devil’s Peak area since November 2021. The programme has already had positive impacts on the team members, all now having cell phones, bank accounts and building stronger support systems of family and friends. Nine team members have moved into accommodation.