Khulisa Streetscapes will be operating a supportive housing project, CHESTER HOUSE, in Walmer Estate Cape Town,  which sleeps 26 people in a dormitory-style arrangement (rooms of 2-8 people). The house will be open weekdays 5 pm to 7.45 am, and all day during the weekends. During the week, everyone staying in the house participate in Streetscapes work.

The Woodstock house will offer a range of services aligned to ‘harm reduction’ approach.  Harm reduction is client-based approach, emphasizing the need for beneficiaries to set their own goals in order to achieve lasting and successful behaviour change. A workshop was facilitated where the residents could voice what their goals regarding moving into the house are and what problems they were looking the house to address. This helped us to develop a more shared vision and objectives for the pilot. Once a joint vision was set, a basic set of collective rules and discussion on consequences was developed by the beneficiaries.

Chester Road project will be evaluated in partnership with Human Sciences Research Council to better understand how low barrier housing programmes impact on the wellbeing of chronic homeless people.  The house is offered to chronic homeless, who cannot benefit from shelters due to high degree of social marginalisation over long periods of time. The house is a test case to prove better ways to address the needs of this client group, especially those using substances.

The specific objectives of the Chester Road pilot are to describe:

  • How the house operates over the period of time, looking in particular at the capacity of the house as a system to operate effectively and safely, and the residents’ ability to respect of the collectively agreed rules of the house
  • Which housing needs of homeless individuals can be addressed, for beneficiaries at an earlier stage of substance use. This will be assessed  by their capacity to stay house the total 6 months of the pilot and the impact of housing on frequency and volume of substance use
  • Health and wellbeing events such as psychiatric/emergency room admissions, attendance at work, arrests and being either a perpetrator or victim of violence
  • The ability of residents to maintain and look after structure of the house and descriptions of damage
  • The impact on neighbourhood including complaints, disturbances and connections made
  • Any improvements, suggestions or concerns expressed by residents or others involved in the project
  • Changes in life satisfaction of the beneficiary with the housing solution offered

The Chester Road project is an exciting ‘Housing First’ pilot – a first in South Africa. Experiences from the northern hemisphere have demonstrated that  ‘Housing First’ type of housing offered at with less conditions regarding substance use or mental health treatment is an effective way of addressing homelessness. It has demonstrated particular success with chronic homeless, generally considered the most difficult category to reach and provide services for. The project is evaluated by Human Sciences Research Council and reports will be shared of the 6 month results in December 2020.

For further information contact:

Jesse Laitinen

Strategic Partnerships Manager

072 083 700 6064

jesse@khulisa.org.za