The City of Joburg has come up with an innovative plan to help displaced and homeless people to move off the streets and reunite with their families.
The programme was outlined by MMC for Health and Social Development Nonceba Molwele at a media conference on Tuesday.
She emphasised that the aim was to address the homeless and displaced people’s needs in the most humane way possible and work with them to find lasting solutions.
Molwele said her department had established a Displaced Persons Unit consisting of social workers and community development officers to work with people living on the streets on a daily basis.
The City provides a service to trace family members of the displaced people and facilitate the process with the help of non-governmental organisations represented by the Johannesburg Advocacy Group.
In live with its 2040 Vision, the City seeks to provide a good quality of life of its citizens and maximises the human potential of all who live and work in it.
“This is part of our commitment to make Johannesburg a caring City that responds to the needs of the marginalised and vulnerable groups. The City is responsible for programmes and a number of facilities where displaced persons can find shelter and have access to support services," she said.
The number of displaced people is estimated at 3 500, although it fluctuates from time to time. Many of them were aged between 21 and 34.
Molwele said as part of the City intervention the displaced are taken to the Governors House Assessment Centre in Hillbrow, where their needs are identified and assessed.
Hospital Hill Sanctuary, also in Hillbrow, takes care of adults, who can live at the centre for free up to a month while they receive counselling, therapy and life skills training. It accommodates up to 40 adults at a time.
The City has also established an overnight shelter in Kotze Street, Hillbrow, in collaboration with churches and community organisations.
At Wembley Sanctuary in Turffontein, the City takes care of children at risk or living on the streets.
“We are strengthening our relationships with the South African Police Service, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, the Commissioner for Child Welfare, magistrate’s courts, ward councillors, community organisations, schools and parents to address the issue of homelessness and displaced persons. We believe in early interventions and in close collaboration with communities,’’ Molwele said.
She also raised concern about blind beggars found on the streets and at intersections. She urged residents not to give donations to beggars as that encouraged more begging and created a safety hazard to motorists and pedestrians.
She said this country catered for the poor and vulnerable in the form of grants.
Molwele also warned that her department would not hesitate to take action against people or syndicates who abused children and the disabled to enrich themselves.
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