Following on last week’s column, this week I focus on those who land up unhoused in the city and reject the City’s welfare offer of shelter and imprisonment in homelessness and how these individuals are hounded and forced “to keep on moving” until they are ultimately forced into becoming the “hidden homeless”.
Post-Covid-19, and its impact through the PIE act, etc, many of those hiding in informal settlements for fear of being criminalised in the city also chanced it returning to the CBD and other major business nodes such as Bellville.
The City has, in turn, shown clearly that policy hasn’t changed to a “caring policy” as the mayor initially claimed, by seeking court orders to keep certain areas and suburbs clear of those who simply cannot afford a home.
These are not the kind of people the City under the DA has any intention of offering an opportunity to being housed in these areas.
Either they agree to be hidden and imprisoned by their “welfare” offers, or they face eviction to keep them moving on until they, too, go into hiding and become “out of sight, out of mind”.
Those on the railway tracks and how the City has responded to their plight compared to the national government approach is a perfect example of this City’s attitude towards anyone that ends up living on the streets.
These people ended up living on these tracks because of Prasa’s failure to keep our rail transport on track. This provided these individuals the opportunity to build their shacks in an area they know the City holds no jurisdiction to evict them and where they can more easily access economic viability as opposed to living in shacks in areas that make accessibility to economic opportunity virtually impossible.
Fast forward to the City’s desire to have transport devolved to local government. In order to start this process, they would have to ensure the removal of these individuals who have housed themselves on these railway lines.
The national government has tried to find a legitimate and dignified alternative for these individuals and went so far as to make millions available to the City in order that the City could find a dignified way of housing these individuals.
The City’s response: they have their own way of dealing with those experiencing homelessness and rejected the proposal made by the national government.
The City has no intention of providing accommodation to anyone who lands up living on the streets.
It is time the City’s attitude towards those vulnerable in our city is exposed for what it is.
Their whole Safe Space concept is a ridiculous attempt at trying to convince their electorate they are dealing with this challenge by providing a dignified option for those living on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We need to expose this attempt to prevent certain citizens from being able to find a way out of their un-housed status and keeping them either in a controlled environment or desperate.
This desperation often leads to their criminalisation. Hence, having to then spend most of the City’s budget on safety and security to keep the outcomes of their own exclusionary and discriminatory policies from impacting on their privileged voters.
This is how an uncaring City works, only for those it protects!
* Carlos Mesquita.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
Do you have something on your mind; or want to comment on the big stories of the day? We would love to hear from you. Please send your letters to [email protected].
All letters to be considered for publication, must contain full names, addresses and contact details (not for publication)