23 October 2018
City’s Comprehensive Plan of Action to Address Homelessness Lauded
The establishment of an integrated council programme of action as well as a multi-sectoral partnership to support the needs of the homeless in the City was lauded at an Executive Committee meeting held today, 23 October at the Durban City Hall.
A report tabled at the meeting outlined a stakeholder workshop that was held to discuss issues related to homelessness and social ills within the City. The workshop was recently convened by the Chairperson of the Security and Emergency Services Committee Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer together with the Safer Cities Unit and other relevant City units.
The report, which was first tabled at the Security and Emergency Services Committee meeting held on 18 October, recommended that Council supports the establishment of a Multi-sectoral Task Team to deal with issues related to homelessness within the City and to provide a platform for stakeholders within government and non-government sectors to highlight the plight of the homeless and commit to a solution-based approach.
The report furthermore stated that the head of the Safer Cities Unit be tasked with submitting progress reports to the Security and Emergency Services Committee and provide support to the entire process as well as to its future programmes linked to the Social Development Strategy. It also noted that the approach will respectfully include different stakeholders and sectors which are responsive and supportive to various needs and challenges faced by homeless people.
Councillor Peer, who was acting chairperson of the Executive Committee meeting, said it was good that all members of the Executive Committee were on the same page regarding the issue.
“I am glad this is of concern to all of us. There are many units in the City who are trying to tackle this issue on their own. We need to apply our minds and respond with one voice. That is why this task team is so important. It should also be noted that it is a societal problem that requires all hands on deck. As a society we need to work towards resuscitating the family unit. That is where most our problems starts. A broken family unit usually breeds children that do not have any one to look up to. Our families are plagued with fathers who are absent resulting in mothers having to double up as fathers. Surely some struggle to play a role of a father figure like their male counterparts. I am certain that once this is addressed, our society would gradually produce less children that are drug addicts roaming the streets” she said.
She said the task team comprises of community members, business people, non-governmental organisations as well as a representative from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
“There is good representation on the task team. Right now we have to apply our minds and come up with a budget as no funds have been allocated as yet. It is not easy to deal with the homeless issue in the City and the solution is not dumping them in a particular area. We are facing a mounting problem as the issue of homelessness is growing every day,” Councillor Peer added.
According to Peer, the City was trying its best to deal effectively with the homeless adding that you cannot equate being homeless with drug abuse and criminality.
“Each person has to be assessed, some are mentally ill and require assistance. We want to integrate them back into society. We need regulated shelters to do this as well as skills development.”
In her concluding remarks, the Deputy Mayor pointed out that different members of the team would head different aspects including reunification, drugs and infrastructure.
Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Mondli Mthembu supported the initiative saying it was a good start to tackling this growing issue.
“I commend you Deputy Mayor for bringing this matter to the Executive Committee, it shows that you are concerned about homelessness in the City and we support this team. This is a good place to start,” he said.
Chairperson of the Governance and Human Resources Committee Councillor Barbara Fortein said the formation of the Multi-sectoral Task Team is a definite step in the right direction.
She said homeless people need to be viewed as human beings as they are someone’s son, daughter or sibling.
“We are all concerned about this issue. It is important for the City to meet with stakeholders to understand their needs and find out what resources and budget is required. The formation of this unit is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Councillor Fortein stressed that while there is a need for affordable shelters providing daily accommodation for the homeless, the rehabilitation of individuals where they can be reintegrated successfully back into society was vital.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Acting Head of Communications Mandla Nsele.
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