Counting those who, for many, do not count for much

Posted on November 01, 2022

On 19 October 2022, the Centre for Faith and Community in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria, led the first-ever Tshwane Homeless Count.

The count was hosted by the Unit for Street Homelessness, the Tshwane Homelessness Forum and the City of Tshwane, while Bloomberg Associates and Statistics South Africa played an important advisory role.

The count was an extension of the Centre’s homelessness research, providing data for strategic and budgetary purposes, but also contributing research on methodologies for enumerating so-called hard-to-count populations.  “To address homelessness or other social challenges effectively, accurate data is important. The count helps to have more accurate data on the distribution of people across the city, the causes of people’s homelessness and trends,” says Prof Stephan de Beer, director of the Centre.

Once the overnight census was complete, more than 4 000 previously undocumented people from the streets of Tshwane had been documented, and their needs more carefully catalogued.  With such data, the Centre staff can better advocate for the rights of these citizens to be protected, and the scourge of homelessness to be finally addressed in an effective and systematic fashion.

In the words of Kate Kekana, one of the many volunteers who helped with the project, “Counting homeless people is very important as it enables us to better understand their needs. We are then also able to lobby the government to increase its budget allocations so that homeless people can also benefit.”

If you would like to become more involved in this, or any of the other social outreach initiatives led by the Centre for Faith and Community, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Lance Thomas – [email protected] – for further details.

- Author Stephan de Beer and Dana Mahan

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