Streetscapes and OBSID – partnering on supportive housing

Khulisa Streetscapes will be piloting a supportive housing model for people living on the streets.  OBSID has come on board as a start up funding partner, allowing for an expansion of our current partnership with Streetscapes, who have been funded by OBSID and offering social development services and sheltered work opportunities to people living on the streets in Observatory for the past 11 months.

Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services intended as a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives.  Applying “housing first” principles, this type of housing resource, offered with less conditions regarding substance use or mental health treatment, has been shown to be an effective way of addressing homelessness.

It has demonstrated particular success with the chronic homeless, generally considered the most difficult category to reach and provide services for.

This is very different to the “shelter in place” / “microsite” concept that has been discussed as possible solutions for those living on the streets during the Covid-19 pandemic in that it offers a longer term option to people and isn’t linked to lockdown levels or other restrictions.

Streetscapes ( has already successfully initiated two supportive housing programmes – one in Walmer Estate and one in Kuils River.  Micro housing is planned for the Kuils River facility, providing a more permanent and affordable housing solution for those who most need it.

The project forms part of OBSID’s efforts to address homelessness in Observatory through a developmental approach that includes sheltered work opportunities in Observatory, harm reduction strategies and supportive housing programmes.  It is not intended as a one size fits all solution, but as a pathway off the streets for those individuals who choose to participate in the project.

Streetscapes will apply for registration for all three of its supportive housing sites as shelters with the Department of Social Development in the next application cycle for funding.  Community partnerships will be essential to ensure the sustainability of the project.

What options are available currently?
Observatory has a chronic homeless population with limited options as regards accommodation.  Many individuals have lived on the streets for years or decades, might have concurrent substance use or mental health issues and are known to often resist or reject the help conventionally offered.

Currently the only accommodation option available for this population is in public temporary shelters. However, only 2500 beds are available for an estimated 8000 homeless people in Cape Town and there are few shelters nearby to Observatory.

Shelters offer a very limited solution. Due to the high degree of marginalization, limited services and the abstinence-based approach in shelters, the chronic homeless find it hard if not impossible to adapt to them.

Those living on the streets in Observatory have support networks in the area and are familiar with the location, making it difficult for them to consider living elsewhere.

The project
A lease agreement has been reached with a private property owner in Observatory.  The project will open towards the end of August 2020.

Initially, accommodation placement would be offered to 20-25 people sharing rooms, all of whom would be participants in the Khulisa Streetscapes programme.

Over time and once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, placement would be offered to another 10 people.  The house has space for a sick room and emergency accommodation.  No children would be admitted to the house, couples could be accommodated in smaller rooms.

As with the other houses being run by Streetscapes, the Observatory pilot will offer a range of services aligned to harm reduction approaches. Abstinence is a goal, but it is set by the clients, and is not a requirement to remain in the house.

Services to be offered include:

  • Accommodation and meals (breakfast, supper)
  • Daily community meeting in the morning to address issues and motivate residents
  • Psychosocial support offered during the day in work sites, including individual and group sessions when necessary, assisted health screening and clinic visits, family outreach
  • Access to Streetscapes referral networks – e.g. SANPUD, TB / HIV Care and others for individual support
  • Sheltered or supportive work opportunities, 5 days per week on one of the Observatory work sites.

Let us know what you think – and if you can, please get involved

Please support this initiative through cash donations, furnishing and foodstuff donations to the project.

Use Snapscan for Khulisa Streetscapes:

Or you can use the Khulisa Streetscapes banking account:

Account name: Khulisa fundraising account

Account number: 370670124

Bank and branch: Standard Bank, Hyde Park


If you have more questions about this exciting project, please read the FAQS here:

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