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Court hears how CoCT allegedly reneged on emergency accommodation promise to Bromwell residents

The residents of Bromwell Road in Woodstock have been resisting their eviction since 2014 because they can’t afford the housing options available in Woodstock or Salt River. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA) Archvies

The residents of Bromwell Road in Woodstock have been resisting their eviction since 2014 because they can’t afford the housing options available in Woodstock or Salt River. Picture: Jason Boud/African News Agency (ANA) Archvies

Published Nov 17, 2020

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Cape Town – The City's ability to provide emergency accommodation to the residents of Bromwell Street, Woodstock, took centre stage in the Western Cape High Court on Monday.

Residents are challenging the constitutionality of the City’s housing programme, after it refused to provide emergency accommodation to the residents who have been staying in Bromwell Street.

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Advocate Sheldon Magardie from the Legal Resource Centre represented the residents of Bromwell Street. Magardie argued the residents of Bromwell Street had long-standing ties within the community and were poor working-class families.

“The City could not reasonably have assumed that the residents were not at risk of being rendered homeless as a result of the eviction.

“Former mayor Patricia de Lille had a meeting with the residents

and told them that the City had no obligation to provide them with temporary emergency housing because they were evicted from private land,” he said.

In 2013, Woodstock Hub, a private developer, bought the cottages on Bromwell Street from the residents’ landlord with the intention of developing a high-rise block of apartments.

Since 2014, the residents have been resisting their eviction because it would render them homeless, as they cannot afford any of the housing options available in Woodstock or Salt River.

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In 2016, De Lille said the City would help the residents apply for social housing and that the residents would have the “first option” for social housing being built in the Woodstock and Salt River areas, once they were developed in 18 months time.

Magardie said: “That 18 months has long since come and gone, with none of the social housing opportunities referred to by the City having yet been completed.”

Magardie then read a letter to the court from the City, that was sent on September 3, 2016, just a few days before the residents were due to be evicted.

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The City informed the residents that it had no available temporary emergency housing, it also said that the financial assistance provided by the Woodstock Hub would be sufficient for residents to prevent residents from being homeless – but there was no such contribution.

“The City argues in the papers that transitional housing sites were developed to house people evicted from City land and accepts that some people will stay in transitional housing for longer periods if they do not qualify for other state housing,” he said.

City advocate Karrisha Pillay said: “The City has been impeded in being able to provide social housing because the land on which it wanted to build social housing was occupied.

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“That is why transitional housing was built.

"The case is not as stark as the applicants want the courts to think; it’s not cost-effective for it to generally make available emergency housing in the inner-city.”

The matter continues today.

Cape Argus

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