Towards the end of 2021, Khulisa Social Solutions was awarded a Public Employment Programme (PEP) contract with the City of Cape Town through the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department (SDECD), which led to the establishment of a coalition of NPOs working in the sector and employment for 667 homeless individuals. The first grant came to an end in June 2022.
Inexplicably, although the project was successful, SDECD officials refused the offer by National Treasury for continued funding and the homeless project funds were directed to PEP projects in other departments. A public petition and media coverage brought the issue to the attention of Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee member for SDECD.
Cllr van der Ross with the support of the Department of Enterprise and Investment and Subcouncil 16, submitted an extra funding request to Treasury and also secured R3.29 million roll-over funding to keep the employment programmes running. The City’s decision to continue funding was only confirmed at the end of June, literally at the last minute.
Streetscapes and their NPO partners now have funding for an additional two months, but the overall number of workers had to be reduced to 350. Streetscapes has kept 72 of the 118 rehabilitative jobs.
We should know by mid-August if the extra funding has been approved and whether the programme is safe for another two years. The Department of City Enterprise and Investment has agreed to continue managing the project from the City side. The lack of support from SDECD official is perplexing given the growing numbers of homeless people on the streets.
From September – if Treasury funding is secured – the City has indicated some changes will be made as to how the programme is administered, where the workers will work and how funding will be channelled to the NGOs. We hope these changes will not affect the programme implementation negatively.
The past few months have highlighted the challenges of partnerships between large government entities like the City and small NGOs. It is clear that NGOs need to have a ‘plan B’ but, given the nature of non-profit work, this is not always available.
In just six months the project achieved promising results with many participants moving off the streets or away from shelters / safe spaces to more permanent housing, as well as in terms of reduced substance abuse, higher motivation levels and participation in recreational activities. We would love to see this programme continue.
See the full quarterly report here.
Sadly, the funding uncertainty meant the number of supervisors had to be reduced and Yonelani who supervised the cleaning team lost her job. Ten of the jobs that were saved were assigned to the Streetscapes Rugley Road garden. Chantel, our fieldworker, and Thandi, who manages the Rugley Road Garden, are splitting the team’s duties between the garden and street cleaning. From mid July, the team have come back on to our streets to clean gutters, cut back weeds and clear pavements of winter debris. They are doing sterling work, so do please look out for them and say hello.
If there is a particular street or park that needs attention, please let us know and we will ask the team to tackle it for you. If you are concerned about someone living rough on your street, let us know so that Chantel can follow up to see what can be done.
DPVO plans going forward
The new PEP funding was offered to Streetscapes and their fellow NGOs, very soon after DPVO was started, so it drew attention away from what we had planned to do at the time. We are now revisiting our original plans, and discussing how we can support Streetscapes’ work more effectively while serving the interests of residents of Devil’s Peak and Vredehoek. We have two particular focus points:
- To run a survey of people living rough in and around our suburbs. A volunteer has come forward to coordinate a small team of Streetscapes workers who will be trained to run the interviews. We hope to start this in August.
- Our second focus point comes out of a question often asked: what happens to the people who join the Streetscapes programmes? Once their lives are stabilised, how do they find a route out of the programme into the wider world of work? The PEP funding saga has also highlighted the importance of alternative income streams.
We are currently discussing two or three possibilities which range from making products from the veggies and herbs grown in the gardens to be sold at Streetscapes or in local shops to finding employment opportunities for workers who take courses to become security guards.
How you can help
- We are still fundraising for our share of Chantel’s salary so any donations, large or small, are welcomed.
- If you have business development skills or know someone who would like to join our discussions, please do be in touch.