'Cape's crazy housing prices hitting middle class'
Cape Town - Cape Town's housing prices have increased to such an extent that middle class families with good incomes are finding it almost impossible to afford a roof over their heads.
The city is ranked third for the highest housing prices in the world. The other two cities are Shanghai and Vancouver.
In a report released by the organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi, titled: “I used to live there,” it said that because of the rising house prices it is “affecting tenants across race and class in the inner city and central suburbs, such as Sea Point and Observatory.
“Evictions and displacement are primarily driven by a property price bubble and hikes in rent. This is compounded by a poor supply of affordable housing in the private sector and the utter failure of all three spheres of government to build well-located affordable housing.”
Jared Rossouw from Ndifuna Ukwazi, said that they did extensive research on affordable housing. “Cape Town is facing an urban housing affordability crisis. The housing prices in Cape Town are crazy.
“It is increasing with as much as 16% in Cape Town and on the Atlantic Seaboard with 22%. Middle-class people cannot afford this. Working-class people can’t afford to stay in the city or in areas such as Woodstock and Salt River.
“These areas are being targeted by developers. This leads to people being priced out and displaced. It is unjust to move people to areas such as Wolwerivier,” he said.
Hopolang Selebalo head of research at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said their research debunks “the City of Cape Town’s position and describes how the city could could provide alternative accommodation in well-located areas in a creative and sustainable way".
“We call for the city to build transitional housing using available public land or renovate existing public buildings we have identified. Transitional housing is already being developed by the City of Johannesburg for inner city evictees.
“There is no good reason why this can’t be done in Cape Town. It is both feasible and affordable - all it takes is political will,” said Selebalo.
The report identified eight areas that they say are able to be used for affordable housing. The areas are in the Salt River and Woodstock area and include the Salt River Circle, Woodstock Community Learning Centre and the Woodstock Hospital site, which has been occupied by a number of families for nearly four months. What used to be wards in the hospital have been transformed into rooms, complete with furniture by residents that were previously homeless.
Until four months ago, Leah Losber was living in a park, but now has a place to call home after moving into the Woodstock Hospital site in March. “I came from Douglas Square and was sleeping outside, now I can wake up and clean and cook food for us. It is much better now, out there I lost a lot of stuff and in winter it was very hard.”
Losber said she works as a cleaner and is grateful to have her own space now. “I never thought this would happen for me, the first night I got here I couldn’t even sleep because I was so excited.”
Mayco member for transport and development, Brett Herron said some of the sites identified had already been allocated to social housing companies for the provision of affordable housing in the form of social housing and plans for building the houses were in the pipeline.
“Over the past few months, we have been analysing city-owned land and buildings in and around the city centre, including Salt River and Woodstock, for the purposes of affordable rental housing. We expect to be able to identify the sites we will make available for affordable housing and to commence that process within the next few weeks.”
He said the city’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) is finalising a radical and game-changing strategy for the provision of affordable housing opportunities in the inner-city, Salt River and Woodstock.