Why you need to stop giving money to the homeless in South Africa

The City of Cape Town has reiterated its call for residents to not give money or food directly to homeless individuals.

This is because handouts undermine the city’s programmes to help street people, and they also perpetuate chronic homelessness, said mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith.

“We are constantly reminding residents about the harm in giving money directly to street people. While they may think they’re doing a good deed, in reality, it only discourages street people from accepting social services,” Smith said.

“Often the donations obtained on the street will actively prevent reintegration.”

“While members of the public will complain about the structures erected and activities undertaken by street people, they will often also continue to incentivise such behaviour through donations directly to the street person while forgetting about the person who leaves the street to return home or moves to a shelter.”

Smith indicated that the city still encourages people to donate directly to the NGOs working with street persons.

“Social intervention, though time consuming, is ultimately how we will reduce the number of people living on our streets,” he said.

“But again, I remind residents that it’s futile to complain about the presence of street people in your neighbourhood or public open spaces while enabling the behaviour through handouts.”

Read: How to tell if your neighbourhood is at risk of becoming a crime hotspot

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Why you need to stop giving money to the homeless in South Africa