Homeless can’t return to streets – Governor

By Maria Kandjungu

THE fate of the homeless and street kids who are currently being temporally sheltered in tents at the Katutura Youth Complex and the Khomasdal stadium is still unclear as stakeholder meetings regarding where they will go after the state of emergency is lifted have not taken place yet.

Confidente understands that although government does not intend to release and send the homeless back onto the streets, it still unclear what they will do, especially with those without known family members or those with conflicted families and who are outcast.

Khomas Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua confirmed to Confidente this week that although no decision has been taken yet on what is to happen to the street kids and homeless people currently in temporary shelter, they will not be put back on the streets.

“No decision has been made yet, we are in preparations and trying to craft a plan on how we are going to deal with the situation. I have planned a meeting with all the stakeholders involved regarding what happens to them post covid-19, but we are definitely not sending them back into the street,” the governor said.

While Windhoek has a few old age homes for the elderly and childrens’ homes, there are no shelters for the homeless who have not reached old age and are not under-aged. McLeod-Katjirua admitted that it is time to discuss the need for a homeless shelter to be brought forward and even tabled in Parliament to enable government to budget for it.

“Obviously there is a need to do that, it needs to be debated but we have to look at whether there is a budget and resources to build these shelters, whether we have the capacity in terms of social workers and all those other people needed to assist and rehabilitate these people.

“You have to look at how much it will cost to shelter them and to feed them,” she added noting that while her office together with councillors will be responsible for starting and spearheading such discussions, they first need to find out if the city has a high number of homeless people which may necessitate the need to build such a place of shelter.

Currently, the Ministry of Health in partnership with the City of Windhoek is sheltering over 100 street kids and homeless people who were rounded up in the city, with more coming forth to register themselves.

“The current shelter obviously cannot be made permeant. Some people are at the [Katutura] Youth Complex and others at the Khomasdal stadium, and when they country opens the youth will want their centre back and the stadium will be needed for sports so we will need to immediately and peacefully vacate them from those premises,” McLeod-Katjirua stated.

She added that although homeless shelters need to be built, their aim is not to isolate homeless people as they want to integrate them back into society. “The idea is not to isolate them from the rest of the society but our intention is to integrate these people back in society with families.

“There are those with qualifications and some may need rehabilitation. We want to see how we can best help them by not just placing them somewhere but by trying to address some of their problems,” she said, but the governor could not yet specify when such meeting would take place nor when they foresee the final decision to be taken.