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Cape Town housing still a challenge for DA

Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Published Jul 11, 2016

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Cape Town - Keeping abreast of its ever-growing housing waiting list continues to be a challenge for the DA administration.

For 10 years the City of Cape Town has provided basic services to thousands of people in informal settlements

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However, as of Friday, there were 309 902 people waiting for a house in Cape Town - accounting for more than half of the more than 500 000 people waiting throughout the province. But over the past three years, the number of completed brick and mortar houses, which the council refers to as top structures, has gradually decreased.

Mayco member for human settlements Benedicta van Minnen said the city was still finalising, collating and verifying its actual delivery figures for the past financial year, which ended on June 30. However, it expected the delivery of top structures would amount to about 3 600 - falling short of its target of 4 243. By comparison, it completed 4 300 top structures in 2013, 3 647 in 2014 and 3 372 last year.

The council also counts serviced sites and “other housing opportunities”, which include the reblocking of informal settlements and backyarders, among its housing delivery targets.

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In the past year, about 2 400 sites were serviced and 4 500 other housing opportunities created.

In April, Van Minnen described the housing problem in Cape Town as “acute”.

City resources were stretched to the limit, she said.

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“The current delivery model, where the government is the sole provider of housing opportunities, which consist mostly of costly brick and mortar housing, is simply unsustainable,” Van Minnen said at the time.

But last week, the ANC’s mayoral candidate, Xolani Sotashe, slammed the DA administration for the length of time people had been waiting in transitional relocation areas, such as Blikkiesdorp, for a house.

Sotashe said the city’s 204 informal settlements needed to be de-densified and housing delivery speeded up. He also bemoaned budget rollovers on housing projects in Imizamo Yethu and the slow pace of delivery in Masiphumelele.

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Urbanisation, which the provincial government has provided as the reason for the ever-growing housing database, could not be blamed for the slow pace of delivery, Sotashe said. Compounding the problem in the city is the more than 45 000 backyard dwellers residing on council property, driving up the number of those in need even further.

If re-elected, the DA has pledged to ramp up its provision of houses in this financial year to 4 732.

Van Minnen said the council would also service 6 575 sites and provide a further 2 000 “opportunities” to backyarders and informal settlement dwellers.

According to the council’s latest five-year Integrated Development Plan, approved by the council with the budget for 2016/17 at the end of May, under a continued DA administration the city would remain committed to upgrading informal settlements.

Its five-year housing plan sets out strategies for upgrading the living conditions of people living in these settlements by first providing access to electricity, water and sanitation, before progressing to incremental housing.

The DA has also pledged to provide a covered toilet, basin and external electricity connections to so-called backyarders living on city-owned property.

While the city could not yet say how much of its 2015/16 human settlements budget it had managed to spend, Van Minnen said spending had been influenced by a number of factors, including safety and security costs, to secure building sites, gang activity, community unrest and the underperformance of some contractors.

A budget of R1.7 billion has been allocated to the human settlements directorate for the 2016/17 year - R430m of that for capital expenditure.

Housing developments are taking place, or have been earmarked in 19 areas across the city. Large projects are planned for Delft, Durbanville, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Valhalla Park.

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