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Social housing unit, Cape Town’s success story

File photo: The unit had further raised the stakes with a pilot project in Ravensmead and Uitsig in recent months. Picture: David Ritchie

File photo: The unit had further raised the stakes with a pilot project in Ravensmead and Uitsig in recent months. Picture: David Ritchie

Published Sep 4, 2016

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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town’s social housing unit is making inroads in its bid to make city-owned rental stock areas safer, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said on Sunday.

The unit was established in 2012 to ensure that tenants complied with the conditions of their lease agreements, focusing specifically on crime and other social ills that affected the quality of life of tenants in rental stock units, he said.

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In the first six months of this year, the unit reacted to 458 complaints received via the city’s housing offices. The complaints included allegations of drug peddling and the operation of illegal shebeens, as well as illegal occupation. They issued 430 compliance notices, made 63 arrests (the bulk of which were for drug-related offences), and issued 321 fines totalling R248 550 for various by-law transgressions.

The unit had further raised the stakes with a pilot project in Ravensmead and Uitsig in recent months. The Blue Flag Project focused on 144 city-owned rental units, with the aim of curbing drug abuse, gang activity, and anti-social behaviour.

In February, the unit was instrumental in the city reclaiming five units in the Ravensmead/Uitsig area that had become known drug and gang havens. The illegal occupants left the properties due to consistent pressure from officers attached to the unit as well as the South African Police Service (SAPS).

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“Complaints about gangsters invading rental properties are not new. Getting them out is an arduous task, even when we take the legal route. The ‘Little House on the Prairie’ property is an example of the marathon that an eviction battle can be. The fact that our staff managed to help get these illegal occupants out without the city having to go to court is an achievement to be proud of.

“Another big plus that’s come with this Blue Flag Project is the change in mindset that has been evident in so many of the tenants. Where before there was very little regard for law enforcement agencies, including the SAPS, the successes of recent months have gone a long way in building relationships and trust between law enforcement officials and tenants,” Smith said.

The city was also getting ready to advertise a series of new posts for the unit. These new posts would carry the functions of both law enforcement and housing officials. They would deal with urban decay and maintenance issues in addition to enforcement and policing. It was envisioned that in the future the unit would deal not only with crime and safety, but also with general by-law enforcement and complaints relating to quality of life to help improve conditions for residents in rental housing units in a holistic manner.

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A few months ago, the city’s social development and early childhood development directorate launched another initiative aimed at making rental stock areas safer for tenants. The Women in Rental Stock Project was aimed at uplifting rental stock areas in nine suburbs and addressing socio-economic problems by empowering female tenants, Smith said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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