The beginning 

It all began in 1977 with Father Roger Hickley and Mr Sam Gross. Together with the help of people from Greenpoint and Seapoint they started giving shelter to homeless people. After several meetings and with the approval of the Catholic Church, the Old Sacred Heart Convent in Somerset Road was opened for the homeless.

From the official opening on 15th

of September 1978 until 1982 the Haven was providing a shelter for about 70 people. For The Haven the meaning of  “shelter” not only involves providing people with a bed, food and a hot shower. It also means that we try to get them “back on track”. So, with a social worker every client was about to be interviewed and as a haven we made effort to re-establish contact with families.

No place for the shelter

Although the purpose and the mission of the Haven was good and we were succeeding with reuniting families, in 1982 people tried to close the shelter. Since 1965, the start of the Apartheid, the area of the night shelter was claimed as a “white” area. Residents were complaining and developed a sustained attack on the presence of the Haven. In that year the Department of Community Development ordered the Haven to close.

A new home: Napier Street Shelter

In the Management Committee of The Haven different representative organisations were involved like local churches and synagogues. The committee decided to fight the order. Finally, the government understood that the community wants a solvation for the problem of vagrancy. A shelter would need to operate in this area. The government decided that a less prominent and less residential site should be sought. This led to the establishment of the Napier Street Shelter on the 12th of July  in 1984.

Napier Street as an example

The Napier Street became an example as the first of a growing number of shelters for the homeless in Cape Town.