The town ofSomerset Westsuffers from a serious problem of homeless people and others who are sometimes referred to as vagrants, etc. This is particularly evident in the town centre, close to the site of the Night Shelter. Efforts are being made by Councillors and various NGOs to solve this problem. The CoCT’s imminent policy on the rehabilitation of Homeless People is expected to advance this process.
For practical purposes, the Night Shelter is the only refuge of its kind in the town. It is potentially a significant element in the solution of the Homeless problem. We are informed that there are only 50-55 persons who fall within the definition of Homeless People. The capacity of the Night Shelter would therefore considerably alleviate the problem and must not be lost to the town.
The HRAA has inspected the Night Shelter premises, and will continue to do so periodically. Our members were impressed to note that it appears to be run in an efficient and disciplined manner. We found it to be clean and well kept. A vegetable garden is being developed and there is a rudimentary workshop where saleable items can be and are being produced.
We are aware of past difficulties experienced at the shelter. We note that new management has made and continues to make progress in resolving these. We understand that a continuing problem relating to virtually permanent occupants is being resolved. Financial, stock and asset controls have improved and general supervision appears to be sound and adequate.
The Night Shelter functions as an NGO under the control of known and reputable local persons. The NGO is merely a tenant, largely dependent on charitable donations and subscriptions which are likely to be discontinued if tenure of the premises is insecure. Significant commitment of funds or investment is presently unobtainable. Extension of the lease is essential.
The CoCT has a duty to maintain order and cleanliness in the town, which it duly discharges. Councillors, NGOs and many citizens contribute time and effort towards this end. The Night Shelter also makes a valuable contribution. We believe that the City, over and above its obligations as a landlord, has a moral duty to the town and citizens to lend continuing support to the shelter.
We recommend that the City should (a) extend the lease of the Night Shelter for a period of 10 years, (b) include in the lease the use of the vacant cottage(s) on erf 8813 under the City’s control and (c) grant the shelter a firm commitment of defined financial support for the future, without impairment of its autonomy.