New housing site ‘a step in the right direction’

Pickwick transitional housing site in Salt River.

Reclaim The City (RTC) has welcomed the R11 million transitional housing site in Salt River, saying it was a step in the right direction, and would provide meaningful options for tenants facing homelessness at the courts.

The Pickwick transitional housing site, a first for the city, will provide short-term accommodation to those currently living in an informal settlement on the Pine Road site, which once complete, will provide about 230 social housing opportunities.

The housing site, on the corner of Pickwick and Copperfield roads, has 42 rooms, communal bathrooms and kitchens, as well as access control to ensure the safety of tenants.

During a recent site visit, Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said it was important for the Pine Road residents not to be displaced, but to be offered short-term accommodation in the area and at a nominal cost, while they are assisted with finding more permanent housing opportunities.

He said those offered short-term accommodation in the facility will sign lease agreements and pay a monthly rental, based on what they can afford and the size of the room. If necessary, the City would subsidise the operational costs through its Rental Indigent Scheme applicable to council tenants.

“It is exciting to know that our first transitional housing project in Salt River is on track. This project forms part of the City’s greater commitment to unlock hundreds of affordable and social housing opportunities near the city centre,” he said.

Mr Booi said construction was now complete, but they were busy with the final touches, which included painting the facility, obtaining an occupancy certificate, and appointing a managing agent for the site.

RTC’s Zacharia Mashele said the Human Settlements directorate should be congratulated for building the first transitional housing close to the city.

“This is a completely new approach to housing, where families who face eviction or other emergencies live communally in a managed building with security and other support services.

“Now we need to ensure that this model is rolled out across well-located areas and in every new social housing project. Then the City can provide meaningful options for tenants facing homelessness at the courts,” he said.

Mr Booi said some of these families who have a combined income of R15 000, could qualify for the social housing opportunities that we will be developed in Pine Road.

“As such, they may choose to return to live in these units should they qualify. The intention is not for tenants to live at the transitional site in Pickwick Street on a permanent basis, but rather to provide them with a helping hand, and to accommodate them in the short-term,” he said.

“At the site, short-term tenants will have access to social services, while they are in the process of finding more permanent housing opportunities elsewhere. In this way, when they move on, the space at the transitional site becomes available for other short-term tenants,” he added.

Mr Mashele said RTC was in support of this project, as it provided a temporary solution for families who were in dire need of housing.

“Transitional housing does not provide permanent residency, but it is a promising step to allow the City to move Pine Road families to the site, while plans for permanent accommodation take place.”

Mr Booi said the project echoed the City’s commitment to providing hundreds of 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.

He said the rezoning application for the Salt River site had been tabled with the Municipal Planning Tribunal, and said they were currently working on the acquisition of the Woodstock Hospital, which had also been earmarked for social housing.

“The City currently has five social housing projects under construction, which include Bothasig, The Block Glen Haven and Weltevreden Park, and the City will continue to partner with the Western Cape Government on social housing projects, such as the Conradie Hospital site and the Goodwood social housing project, altogether these projects are expected to deliver over 3 800 affordable housing opportunities,” he said.