DURBAN - PROVIDING government housing to individuals who are not in desperate need of low-cost houses has had unintended consequences where beneficiaries sell the houses or use them as storage facilities next to their palatial homes.
This was the observation made by eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda at a municipal executive committee meeting where he proposed a policy change to prevent such individuals from benefiting from a government-funded housing scheme.
The policy change, if it materialises, would target people who qualify for a government-funded house, but are not in need as they have family members who could provide housing for them.
He said there had been cases where people with “mansions” also had a government house while their neighbour, who desperately needed a house, was living in a crumbling structure.
The report on the Housing Registry called on the city leadership to grant permission for the municipality to participate in a pilot implementation of the National Housing Registry Programme with a view of enabling households to register their needs for adequate shelter.
This was supported by opposition parties who said the adoption of the national Housing Needs Register would give a clear indication of the housing issues in the city and ensure more transparency when it comes to the allocation of houses.
Kaunda said the policy on the provision of houses needed to be reformed, adding that just because someone qualified to get a house it did not mean they should be given it if they were not in urgent need of that house.
Individuals being allocated houses when they were not in need could lead to those individuals putting up those houses for sale. There have been many government-issued houses being posted on social media with “for sale” signs on them.
“If my children are able to build me a mansion, I should not be prioritised when it comes to being given a house,” said Kaunda.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said it had been calling for the establishment of a Housing Needs Registry by the city for some time, adding that “the city has all along been claiming that it does not need it”.
Nkosi said it was important that the city’s housing needs were made clear while also giving predictability in the provision of housing.
He said in such housing lists, “the beneficiaries are known in advance and, furthermore, it will create ownership of the project among the community members as they will know that the project is for them, so it is unlikely to be stalked by community protests.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said while they supported the initiative to create a Housing Needs Registry, they have also called for transparency in the process.
“At this stage there is no transparency on how these houses are allocated. That is why the process is fraught with allegations of corruption and political interference,” he said.
He said if the mayor was genuine in his call to ensure that the needs of government housing beneficiaries are prioritised, he would support the calls by the DA for more transparency in the housing allocation process.