Housing process ‘too slow’

Mandisa Shandu from Ndifuna Ukwazi.

Housing activists have accused the City of Cape Town of dragging its feet in providing affordable social housing in Woodstock and Salt River.

Reclaim The City (RTC) and Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) say it has been two years since the City promised to develop parcels of land in the areas.

They held a public meeting at Community House in Salt River on Thursday July 18, to raise awareness over what they say is the slow delivery of well-located affordable housing.

The meeting took place exactly two years after the City promised to release 11 pieces of City-owned land to build affordable, social and transitional housing between Salt River and the Foreshore.

But, mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said the City remained committed to providing hundreds of affordable and social housing opportunities around the city centre on sites such as the Salt River Market, Woodstock Hospital and Pine Road as well as other areas across the city.

“As a City, we recognise the dire need for housing opportunities that are situated on well-located land, close to employment opportunities and economic nodes. There are no quick fixes, but we are absolutely committed to building integrated communities with different types of residential developments based on a mix of income groups and circumstances. Social housing is one of these avenues that we are investing in to provide more affordable housing opportunities for our people,” he said.

At the meeting, NU’s Mandisa Shandu said of the 11 sites only one site, the Pickwick Transitional Housing site, had materialised and while she praised the City for completing this project, she said it was not enough when looking at the extent of the city’s housing crisis.

“The City needs to unlock the other sites and needs to be more proactive when it comes to affordable housing,” she said.

In May 19 families moved from Pine Road to the transitional housing site to make way for the development of 230 affordable hosing opportunities (“Emotional move for Pine Road settlers,” Tatler, May 30).

But, to date, construction at Pine Road has not started. Mr Booi said building plans for the Pine Road project still had to be approved.

Speaking on the status of the various sites, Mr Booi said the rezoning application for the Salt River Market site had been approved. The appeals period had expired in June and an appeals report would be referred to the Mayor’s Appeal Committee for a decision.

He said the Woodstock Hospital site had been earmarked for social housing opportunities, but the planning of those opportunities could only formally start once council had approved the acquisition of the property from the provincial government.

“This process is currently under way and will be tabled at council in due course,” he said.

Mr Booi said discussions were under way with the City’s district planning offices on rezoning and how best to expedite delivery for Pickwick Street, Fruit and Veg in Roeland Street, New Market Street and the public open space next to Woodstock Hospital.

Other sites include the Upper Cantebury Street, James Street and Dillion Street.

“Going forward, we will continue to assess City-owned land, including in and near the Cape Town CBD among others, to determine whether some of these properties could be developed for housing opportunities,” he said.

Conrad Meyer, from the Development Action Group (DAG), said the rate at which social housing was being made available was too slow, given the need, particularly in the inner city.

He said they had identified large parcels of land, including Marconi Beam, Ysterplaat and Wingfield, which were well positioned for affordable housing.

He said there was a housing crisis reminiscent of apartheid, the only difference was that greed and not bulldozers was pushing people out of their homes.

“Our constitution obligates the government to provide access to adequate housing to all citizens, not just the rich. The government can and must play a direct and active role that well located land is made available, and not in Blikkiesdorp or Wolverivier.”