The Cape Argus article “WATCH: Housing database meaningless according to families occupying old Woodstock Hospital” refers.
The City rejects the attempts to water down one of the pillars of fair and systematic housing delivery in South Africa, called the Housing Needs Register in Cape Town, to legitimise the hijacking of buildings or the unlawful occupation of property.
This is a protected database, free from political or pressure group interference and ensures that those who qualify for housing subsidies, which are funded from the public purse, are indeed qualifying beneficiaries. This would include, for instance, earning below the household income threshold and not having owned a property before.
There is a great need for affordable housing and thus we must have a fair and ordered approach. The Register is dynamic, so as opportunities get allocated, the recipients are removed but applicants are constantly added when they apply.
The unlawful occupation of the old Woodstock Hospital site, among others, was organised by Reclaim The City (RTC), an arm of Ndifuna Ukwazi. This is an organisation that does not represent the broader public, does not account for public money or national housing processes, but purports to decide who benefits from housing, and who should not.
Apart from the rampant criminality that has occurred on sites organised for occupation by RTC, engagements with occupants have revealed that many are paying “rent” to self-proclaimed leadership factions, gate-keeping access to the site as and when they deem fit.
In the central city area, it is not the Housing Needs Register that is the obstacle to the delivery of affordable housing opportunities to legally defined beneficiaries, the unlawful occupation campaigns of RTC is one of the biggest obstacles to the building of suitable social housing on well-located sites.
If these properties are not vacated, redevelopment and the provision of social housing units, is impossible.
There are no overnight solutions to the country’s housing challenges, which require true leadership from people serving the greater good and not their own narrow interests. Deep and fundamental reforms are required to the South African human settlements framework.
Solutions must be implemented in a lawful, fair and systematic manner, with a sense of purpose, dedication, and urgency.
* Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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