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City's comprehensive plan of action to assist the homeless lauded
​A Multi-Sectoral Task Team has been established to assist the homeless
in the City. The establishment of the team was lauded at a recent
Executive Committee meeting.

The establishment of a Multi-sectorial Task Team, who will act decisively to address the issue of homelessness in eThekwini, has been lauded writes Charmel Payet.

EACH day hundreds of people migrate to eThekwini Municipality in search of employment and a better life. This rapid urbanisation brings with it a unique set of challenges including an increased demand for job creation, affordable housing and service delivery.

To effectively deal with the growing problem of homelessness in the City, a Multi-sectorial Task Team, led by Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer has been established. The establishment of an integrated council programme of action as well as the multi-sectorial partnership to support the needs of the homeless in the City was lauded at an Executive Committee meeting held on 23 October.

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-sectorial 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 is the chairperson of the Security and Emergency Services Committee, 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.” She said homelessness was 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 of our problems start. 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. I am certain that once this is addressed, our society will 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. We are facing a mounting problem as the issue of homelessness is growing every day,” Councillor Peer added.

According to Councillor 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, Councillor Peer pointed out that different members of the team would head different aspects of intervention 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-sectorial Task Team is a definite step in the right direction.

She said homeless people need to be viewed as human beings. “We are all concerned about this issue. It is important for the City to individuals where they can be reintegrated successfully back into society was vital.

charmel.payet@durban.gov.za 

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