Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s new draft Human Settlements Strategy has begun to the lengthy process to council as the City seeks to find new solutions for the housing demand.
The City said that demand for affordable housing in Cape Town and other cities in South Africa is acute, and that the State, or a municipality, does not have the financial resources, nor the availability of suitable land, to tackle the housing need on its own.
They said new legal and lawful solutions, innovations and stronger partnerships to tackle the challenge of accommodation, especially for those earning less than R22 000 per month, are required.
Mayco member for human settlements Malusi Booi said that the City’s new draft Human Settlements Strategy was served before the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee today, April 8, 2021, after a three-month public participation period.
It is earmarked to serve before the council later this year for further consideration.
“The demand for affordable housing will continue to be exacerbated as a result of the dire national economic conditions, which are being made worst by the impact of Covid-19 and the national lockdowns, the current national housing regulatory regime and the fall-out from the large-scale orchestrated unlawful occupations that have happened since the Covid-19 lockdown started,’ said Booi.
“The draft strategy underwent three months of public participation. We received some incredible feedback from residents and interested parties in government and the private sector.
“This is heartening as we have said from the start, Cape Town’s Human Settlements Strategy is for all in Cape Town. It is not for one sector or for government to handle on its own,” Booi said.
“Housing, across all types, affect all who live in Cape Town. Affordable housing, and incrementally enhancing affordable accommodation and basic services, must become a greater part of the mainstream conversation.”
He explained that new strategy is aimed at enabling greater partnerships in the human settlements sphere, especially private sector support.
“This strategy is meant to enable more sustainable, integrated and spatially transformed communities. Cape Town has many unique challenges and we must ensure we are able to manoeuvre around the complexities that we face as a city, such as suitable land scarcity and diminishing national grant funding for housing.”
A shortfall in the development of formal housing opportunities of approximately 30 000 every year within the next decade, assuming the average annual rate of supply remains unchanged.
To accommodate projected growth in Cape Town population, as well as to manage the existing housing demand, it is estimated that roughly 500 000 housing opportunities need to be created between now and 2028.
The City’s Human Settlements Directorate spent approximately 98% of its funding in the 2019/20 financial year, despite the substantial impact of Covid-19.
“This illustrates the City is able to deliver on state projects as earmarked, but the need is pronounced and a new, whole-of-society approach is required.”
The draft strategy has been more than two years in the making and much has occurred in these two years, including the immense Covid-19 and lockdown impacts and mass organised unlawful land occupations.
The City has also developed a draft Unlawful Land Occupation Framework. The draft Human Settlements Strategy has been amended to include the principles of the framework.
The draft framework primarily deals with short- and longer-term measures to deal with the large number of people who have illegally settled on land, and especially the issue of basic services.
Booi said the land occupations, often with the involvement of so called “shack-farming” syndicates over the Covid-19 lockdown period and while the national crisis regulations remain in effect, have led to the establishment of new settlements in many parts of the metro - such as in Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Mfuleni.
Booi maintained that the City is unable to provide immediate services, “if at all, to all newly formed settlements at the expense of the existing services and programmes planned in accordance with its budget”.
The City’s stance is that the land assessment/physical conditions determines what, if any services, can be provided in terms of emergency relief.
The majority of the occupations have happened on land that is not suitable or viable for human habitation. These areas are typically not well resourced in terms of bulk services as the City cannot develop it for housing purposes.