Cape Town - Housing activists have taken the City of Cape Town’s housing backlog dilemma to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging him to immediately release three large, well-located and vacant military sites in Cape Town for the development of low-income housing.
In an open letter penned by the Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC), Development Action Group (DAG), Legal Resources Centre (LRC), and Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) they have cited Ysterplaat, Wingfield and Youngsfield as having potential to combat Cape Town’s affordable housing crisis and alleviate the most harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
NU Researcher Michael Clark said: “The rise in the number of land occupations in Cape Town and other cities, soon after the imposition of the national lockdown, is an example of the extent to which the need for land has reached a breaking-point.
“The state, at all levels, therefore has a legal, moral and public health obligation to expedite the release of well-located public land to enable the urgent development of affordable housing.”
Clark said they have outlined in their detailed submissions to the presidency, the National Coronavirus Command Council, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, Human Settlements Minister and Defence and Military Veterans Minister.
The submissions detail how the identified land could be released and advocated for the sites to be incrementally developed through a “package of plans” that already exist in the housing programmes.
“We have included schematic plans for the development of each sites, along with careful analyses of the opportunities and constraints of each site, and proposed guiding principles and implementation imperatives that should underpin any development of the sites.
“In our detailed submission, we have therefore presented a compelling case for why these sites should be released and how to practically do so,” he said.
Clarke said in releasing the land, the national government can build up to 67 000 low-income houses in Cape Town.
DAG’s executive director Aditya Kumar said: “The three parcels are located within 10km of Cape Town city centre, very well-placed relative to all the amenities (such as schools, hospitals, economic centres etc) and comprise 670 hectares of prime land. ”
The Presidency’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale told the Cape Argus: “The Presidency has referred this matter to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure who have indicated to the civil society formations that Minister De Lille will give attention to this matter.”
According to the Department of Public Works, Ysterplaat is allocated and utilized by the Department of Defence as an Air Force Base.
Youngsfield is currently utilized by the Department of Defence as the Military Base and Wingfield is currently utilized by as a Naval Base.
Last year, De Lille announced that the government has identified 20 land parcels in the Western Cape to be released for the purposes of human settlements.
De Lille said: “I will set up a meeting with all the concerned stakeholders next week to discuss their issues and I am committed to discussing the government's land reform and redistribution programme with the groups. Thereafter I will engage them on a regular basis.”