South Africa: Band-Aid Solutions to Address the Homelessness Scourge Cost More in the Long Run, Report Finds

analysis

A new report on the cost of homelessness in Cape Town found that short-term solutions to the problem are not only expensive but fail to help people get off the streets.

Homelessness cost Capetonians more than R740-million last year. This is according to a seminal study done by the Coalition to End Homelessness on the financial impact of the scourge.

The study, which found that more than 14,000 people live on Cape Town's streets, was conducted before Covid-19 and initiated by U-Turn Homeless Ministries, a Cape Town-based NGO. It is the first costing study of its kind conducted in South Africa.

Speaking at the launch event on Tuesday, Jon Hopkins, chief operations officer at U-Turn, said the current response to homelessness is not only expensive but ethically wrong and financially unsustainable.

"Cape Town is spending most of its money on reactive or punitive responses to homelessness, mostly driven by the criminal justice response," said Hopkins.

Findings show that reactive measures accounted for 45% of the cost at R335.3-million. Of that amount, close to R287-million went towards criminal justice costs.

The research further showed that the homeless are 11 times more likely to be arrested each year than the average person....

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