City to open new homeless shelters

 Johannesburg – The City of Joburg hopes to open two shelters for the homeless before the year ends, to deal with homelessness in the city, according to Alan Grobler of the City’s Displaced Persons Unit.

  Grobler said the homelessness is made worse by reluctance to use existing facilities by the homeless.

  “Some of them come and never return, and some do not come at all, for different reasons. We hope to open fully functional shelters by December, and to have a shelter in every region,” said Grobler. 

  The shelters are expected to be opened in Florida and Windsor; to be extensions of the overnight shelter in Hillbrow, which accommodates 150 people, Grobler said.

  “Some of the services at the shelters will be psycho-social treatment, food and facilities for sleeping, bathing and laundry.

The City introduced a new outreach programme called Safe Spaces, which encourages homeless people, estimated to be more than 5 500, to use the facilities.”

  Grobler said many of the homeless do not want to be controlled. “There are rules at the shelters, security guards search whoever comes in, and some of them refuse to abandon their knives,” he said.

  Randburg-based NPO, Johannesburg Organisation of Services to the Homeless founder, Mary Gillet-de Klerk estimated the number of homeless people in the city to be over 7 500. She said her organisation provides food, counselling and skills to help with chances of employment for over 300 people.

  “Efforts to start a shelter have been unsuccessful. The city is hellbent on owning every shelter. People become homeless from being victims of crime, fake job scams, evictions and retrenchments. Homelessness in Johannesburg is at alarming levels; and to deal with it we need a creative approach from different sectors,” Gillet-de Klerk said. 

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