eThekwini Municipality has a huge housing backlog
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Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has a backlog in low-cost housing delivery which opposition parties claim is because of the Human Settlements Department’s failure to pay what was due to the city.
Last year, the city delivered 3591 new houses against a then demand of 400000 units, said the DA and IFP.
During her State of the City address last week, mayor Zandile Gumede highlighted challenges, among them housing delivery.
“Housing projects were started, but were not completed. Certain houses were sub-standard and in a poor state of repair. Individuals sold or rented out RDP houses, while some houses were destroyed in natural disasters and were still not yet repaired,” she said.
“For over 20 years, the city has delivered houses, but we acknowledge that the finalisation of permanent tenure has drastically lagged behind due to many reasons within and outside our control.”
DA council member Andre Beetge said this year 3161 houses were delivered. “That’s 430 units less than the previous year, and so, in effect, the budget remained underspent. In 2017, promises were made that the Department of Human Settlements would reimburse the city for billions, bridging finance provided to supply houses in 2016, and that money was never paid,” Beetge said.
The DA said a large part of the problem was that the provincial Human Settlements Department owed the city R2.9 billion.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said before the past mayoral term, houses were delivered as mandated. He said allowing the municipality to build its houses became problematic because of the budget. “The province is not paying the city. Corruption and wasteful expenditure are challenges.”
Councillor Mondli Mthembu, chairperson of the city’s human settlements and infrastructure committee, said the budget for houses was diminishing. “We cannot build outside our budget. Our targets are dependent on the money made available by the provincial department.”
Human settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the department did not owe the city money.
He said eThekwini, over the years, had a top-up policy which was above the subsidy quantum framework. “Between the R1.8bn Urban Settlements Development Grant that eThekwini receives from the National Human Settlements, and the R1bn allocation it gets from the provincial department, this is quite a fair share of the R3.6bn provincial budget.”