DA calls on local government to work with Gauteng DSD to ensure the safety of homeless during lockdown

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that there is a lack of intergovernmental coordination between local government and the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) in terms of identifying temporary shelters for homeless people during the lockdown period.

We have been reliably informed that the DSD requested municipalities to identify places that can be used as temporary shelters for homeless people and to submit the list to the department so that the department can provide the necessary resources. However, we have been informed that some of our municipalities have not yet responded to the department’s call.

This clearly indicates a lack of intergovernmental relations and that these different levels of government are working in silos.

This will have a negative impact on the lives of homeless people who are at risk of contracting coronavirus because they do not have homes to stay in during lockdown.

There are temporary shelters that have been identified in Tshwane, but these have not been properly organised and are not ready to accommodate the homeless.

The new Tshwane Administrator is failing the homeless people in the City as the toll-free number is not functioning and homeless people are being left in the cold.

Furthermore, there seems to be a challenge with housing homeless people in the province as most of the department’s subsidised shelters have been filled to capacity and municipalities are failing to identify temporary shelters.

The DA calls for cooperation between the local municipalities and the DSD to ensure that temporary shelters are identified as a matter of urgency and equipped with the necessities needed by the homeless.

The DA further believes that now more than ever the Department for Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) should come to the fore as well and assist DSD.

The DPWI should donate some of its abandoned buildings to be converted into shelters which NGOs can manage.

The Covid-19 pandemic must be seen as the warning sign, where we should not only look into possible temporary shelters but consider long term plans to relieve the plight of the most vulnerable.