Search for solution to homeless woes
THE CITY of Joburg immediately convened a meeting of regional directors to discuss ways of working together to find lasting solutions to the challenges of the homeless following The Star’s exposé.
In a story headlined “Homeless causing flooding” published on Wednesday, The Star revealed how the homeless living in and under bridges were compromising the city’s road infrastructure.
Following that, member of the mayoral committee for health and social development, Mpho Phalatse said the team also went on an oversight visit to the areas listed in The Star’s article as well as other identified hot spots in the city.
“We have noted, and are both deeply concerned and moved, by the plight of the homeless in our city. The conditions under which these people live are deeply inhumane and are the result of accumulated failures by administrations over the years,” she said.
In 2013/14, the city’s audit report stated there were 2 711 homeless people in the Joburg CBD, most of whom were drug users, yet there is only one rehabilitation centre to service the city.
“This shows that the previous administration was wholly inept to deal with the plight of the homeless, perpetuating an environment of crime and disorder in the inner city.
“This administration is, however, determined to face these issues head-on and come up with suitable, sustainable and integrated solutions to ensure that all residents of this city are taken care of,” Phalatse said.
The Joburg Metro Police Department, the SAPS, Pikitup, social development, the Joburg Roads Agency, Joburg Water and environment affairs have committed resources towards ensuring that cleaning up the inner city is an effective, humane and sustainable exercise, she added.
“It is not difficult to see that the issue of homelessness is one that requires a well thought-out and integrated response.
“We started a campaign that will directly tackle the issue of homelessness, crime and squalor in the inner city through the rehabilitation of willing drug users; enforcing by-laws, thus weakening the hold criminal elements have over the inner city; unblocking and repairing blocked stormwater drains; repairing burst pipes and meters; recapturing bad and hijacked buildings; repairing damaged infrastructure as well as looking at ways in which the homelessand the public can be informed about government programmes available for their assistance.”