Cape Town-130124-Handover of houses in happy valley,Black Heath. Helen Solomon (80) sits in her new house after waiting for 20 years. Reporter: Zara Nicholson. Picture: Candice Mostert

Zara Nicholson

Metro Writer

THREE years ago angry residents protested, burning plastic toilets and calling their area “Unhappy Valley” as they were tired of waiting for houses – but yesterday residents congratulated seven families who moved into new homes in the R185 million Happy Valley Housing project.

Peter Daniels cried as his 80-year-old mother, Helen Solomons, was handed the keys to her first home.

Solomons has been on the city’s housing waiting list for 20 years and lived in informal settlements all her life. “I have probably lived in the backyard of about 15 different people over the years. I am so happy, I’m speechless,” Solomons said.

“I am so happy for my mother,” said Daniels.

Happy Valley is home to about 1 500 families who lived in shacks, with some people on the waiting list for as long as 26 years.

After initial delays because of a contract award dispute, construction of the houses started in June.

In November the first 70 families moved into their homes. Yesterday a further seven families were handed their keys. The city and province funded the R185m development which will see 1 452 houses completed by the end of next year.

Gabriel and Louisa Matthee also received their keys yesterday after 26 years on the waiting list. “This is a very emotional day,” Gabriel Matthee said.

Premier Helen Zille addressed residents yesterday, saying: “This was an unserviced informal settlement and people were cross, now I see these neat little houses with solar panels on their roofs. It’s wonderful because this is progress.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille said: “The city will continue to work hard to build integrated settlements for the 358 000 people on our waiting list.

“People are coming into the Western Cape on a daily basis and it is not that we are failing to build houses… the population is growing and more people want houses.”

The city has also asked potential beneficiaries to come forward as the human settlements directorate sent letters to 1 000 beneficiaries notifying them of the construction of 550 fully-subsidised houses in the Scottsdene housing project.

The list of potential beneficiaries is on display at the Scottsdene housing office, the youth centre and the clinic.

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