The number of homeless and street people in our cities is disheartening and alarming.

Most of the homeless people are not homeless by choice, but through circumstances beyond their control. We need to differentiate between a homeless person and a person willingly living on the streets.

Every SA city is governed by bylaws to keep it running smoothly. Bylaws are rules made by a city to control the actions of its members, but are seen as criminalising homelessness.

U-turn estimates that 14,357 people live on the streets of Cape Town, but the city’s shelters have only 2,473 beds.

The study also shows that the total cost of homelessness in Cape Town is R744m a year and that the city spent R335m a year on punitive measures. It might be morally wrong to fine a homeless person, but bylaws were put in place to control the running of the city.

This is where the department of social development should step in because cities are no longer the same as before. Homeless people and street people roam the streets without any recourse.

The City of Cape Town should work with the department of social development to curb the alarming increase in homeless people and street people.

Social workers have their plates full, because some homeless people are living on the streets willingly and do not want any help from the city or the government; a huge challenge for social development indeed.

Phumzile Malatswane

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