“The City disposed of the St Monica’s Home site - despite a reversionary clause that required the site to be returned to the City when the home ceased to operate - to a private developer.
“That site should and could have been used for affordable and social housing. Despite my best efforts, I was never able to get adequate answers as to how that was allowed to happen.”
Herron said that there was a growing demand for affordable housing in Bo-Kaap as the suburb was under increasing development pressure.
Developers initially intended to demolish the former St Monica’s Old-Age Home in Lion Street. Netcovax developers, looking to begin construction at the site, made an application to Heritage Western Cape to determine the historical significance of some of the buildings older than 60 years.
“In a city with a critical shortage of affordable housing for low- and middle- income families, the most pressing need is surely to address this crisis and not to sell off land for exclusive private development,” Herron said.
He had been liaising with the national Housing Development Agency to discuss mechanisms for the acquisition of critical parcels of government-owned land, among which is the large parcel of land adjacent to Bo-Kaap that belongs to the national government.
The discussions about this land parcel have been ongoing for a number of years without any progress.
Earlier this year, Bo-Kaap’s critical housing shortage sparked violent protests. In July, residents were pepper- sprayed after a group who built shacks in the area protested against the lack of social housing. Many residents have been on the housing waiting list for up to 20 years and share a room with four other family members in a house occupied by three or more families.
Mayoral committee member for Transport and Urban Development, Felicity Purchase, said: “It is the City’s intention to raise this matter with the national Housing Development Agency once again, so that we can get clarity on whether this land is needed by the national government and, if not, how we can proceed in acquiring the site so it could be considered for social housing and affordable housing opportunities.”@MarvinCharles17