“Come back 15 May. We will have more beds then,” the manager of Happy Valley Home in Simon’s Town tells a homeless man.

GroundUp reports that Happy Valley is one of the nine organisations that will receive aid from the City of Cape Town this winter from May 15 to September 30. The shelter will get 10 additional beds. Shelters will also receive additional groceries, blankets, mattresses, toiletries and cleaning materials.

This is “to help cater for an expected increase in the number of street people seeking shelter during the cold winter months”, according to a City press release.

shelter
Happy Valley Home, which has 65 beds, will get an additional 10 this winter. (Eryn Scannell, GroundUp)

The City’s “winter readiness plan” adds 276 beds for the homeless, and supplies for seven organisations in Cape Town, according to councillor JP Smith.

Happy Valley Home can accommodate 65 residents, 45 men and 20 women. The shelter could only add 10 additional bed spaces because of limited space. Its beds are almost always full.

Read: Western Cape Haven shelters accommodate 200 extra people in storm

During winter homeless people “cry at the gate” said the manager, who did not wish to be named.

Happy Valley Home does not charge people to stay, but asks for a monthly contribution of up to R650. Residents get three meals per day, seven days a week.

7 383 homeless in 2015

Darren Feldman, who came to Happy Valley almost a year ago, said: “This place, honestly, has saved my life.”

When he arrived, he “couldn’t string a sentence together”, he said. He had just completed his eighth drug rehabilitation programme, but the rehab centre closed down, leaving Feldman homeless.

At the shelter he created a personal development plan with the manager and set goals to reintegrate with society, as do all the Happy Valley Home residents. The shelter also helps people gain employment by assisting them with CVs and obtaining ID documents for them.

Read more: Don’t give ‘money directly to street people’, City of Cape Town begs residents

Feldman now works at the City’s waste department. “I’ve come out the other side,” he said. He hopes to rebuild his relationship with his wife and two children and reunite his family.

“My dream is to be totally independent and send money home to my kids and donate money here (Happy Valley),” said Feldman.

According to a 2015 street people report by the directorate of social development and early childhood development, there were 7 383 homeless people in the City. The report stated 4 862 people slept on the streets and 2 521 in shelters. Of those, 79% were male and nearly three quarters were between the ages of 26 and 45. 

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