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News Room

Cape Town’s Current Housing Crisis

Melissa Cohen
Property prices are sky-rocketing in the Mother City and rent is simply becoming unaffordable. We take a look at just what the problem is.
Last year, the infamous Tafelberg School plot in Sea Point was up for sale. This plot is 17 000 square metres and can be compared to two rugby fields in size. Human Settlements Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu was up in arms, claiming that the land should be used for affordable housing. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille however, had other ideas. She insisted that the private sale must go ahead. Earlier this year, the sale was finalised. The grounds were sold privately to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School for R135 million. With thousands of people still awaiting affordable housing, many were against the sale. We investigate...
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Cape Town's Housing Commitment 

According to the Western Cape Premier's spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, the city has provided a number of people with affordable housing. In 2014, the Better Living Model was created. The City chose a site situated in Pinelands, where the Old Conradie hospital was.
"Our calculations showed that this well-located prime piece of land would be suitable for 3 600 residential units as part of a mixed-income, mixed-use development. The development will catalyse the upgrade of the surrounding roads infrastructure and public transport, as well as introduce new social services to the neighbouring communities," explains Mpofu.
This particular project is being named as the biggest housing project in the city.

Current Happenings In The City

In June this year, newly elected DA Leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela launched a housing project in Belhar for R1.2 billion.
"It includes a mix of student accommodation, social rental stock, open market GAP, and bonded properties. It further includes neighbourhood squares, a promenade, an urban green area and a retail centre," adds Mpofu.
The City has already handed over 627 units of Phase One. Mpofu confirmed that by early next year, the remaining 2 400 units will be implemented.
"In all, the current affordable housing pipeline now stands at over 40,000 units worth R3.2 billion, across three types of subsidies – FLISP, Social Rental Housing and Institutional Housing, which cater for different market segments in the affordable housing range." Find out who the best and worst insures are in SA today

Cape Town's "Restructuring Zones"

On 28 March 2017, the City of Cape Town informed the National Government and the Western Cape Government of their intention to declare Cape Town in its entirety as a 'restructuring zone'.  The City aims to provide affordable housing opportunities wherever suitable land is available. According to Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development Councillor, Brett Herron, the city is aiming to create a more diverse society.
"The City of Cape Town, as part of our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, established the Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) on 1 January 2017 to accelerate our efforts to create a more equal society based on integrated communities, economic inclusion, and access to opportunities," explains Herron.
There are many areas within Cape Town and its surroundings for affordable housing programs, however the land can't be built on unless the National Government declares it a 'restructuring zone'.

But There Is Still Uncertainty

Herron has explained that the there is some uncertainty as to whether the CBD and the surrounding areas, such as Sea Point are restructuring zones.
"In an effort to remove any uncertainty, we are proposing to extend our restructuring zones, subject to the Western Cape Government and the National Minister’s approval, so that no area is excluded in future," adds Herron.
The City has expressed the importance of providing housing in and around the transport routes and central business district.
"Our Integrated Human Settlements Framework – the strategy we adopted in 2013 to address the dire housing need – found that we will need to provide an additional 650 000 housing opportunities at an estimated cost of R101 billion over the next 20 years."

Tafelberg School's Land Debate

There has been much debate surrounding the sale of the Tafelberg School land. The government has said that this land was not declared a'restructuring zone'. This is their reasoning for not building an affordable housing project on the existing land. The municipality must submit a request to the Provincial Government. The request must be approved by the National Minister and funding has been provided. The ruling must be written in the Government Gazette. Only then, can the city start construction.  

Ndifuna Ukwazi's Reclaim The City Reaction

Local community organisation, Ndifuna Ukwazi(NU) has created a campaign called Reclaim The City. This campaign is in support of affordable housing developments in the city. NU is very unhappy with the decision taken by the Provincial Government to sell the land privately. According to NU's Jared Rossouw, there is a lack of affordable housing in Cape Town. He explains that by selling this land, many people who could have received a roof over their heads - can't.
"Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre is reviewing the decision by the Provincial Government to sell Tafelberg in court on behalf of poor and working class people living in the area; and in the public interest. We hold that the sale was unlawful because the decision to sell it was unreasonable. This public land is not surplus - it is desperately needed for affordable housing."
Rossouw explains how affordable housing has been built on the periphery of the city because it is cheaper.
"Meanwhile the private sector has focused on catering to an exclusive market where there is a surplus. It is only a matter of time before the city's obligations regarding regulating these enclaves is tested to ensure they also include a fair proportion of truly affordable housing," adds Rossouw.

How Would This Project Help The City? 

Rossouw is adamant that it will change the lives of many who work in the Sea Point/ CBD area.
"If it were to go ahead it would provide much needed stable housing for carers, domestic workers and other low income residents of the inner city and surrounds who either commute long distances, or live in overcrowded and vulnerable conditions in Sea Point. It would demonstrate that social housing is possible on small parcels of well-located land and it would demonstrate the Province's commitment to disrupt spatial apartheid."
NU had previously proposed the following:
  • "297 units cross-subsidised by another development on Main Road with 86 “market rate” units.
  • A second proposal showed that if seven floors was built with 121 “market rate” apartments, 216 social housing units could be cross-subsidised and R76 million generated."
Rentals for these units would be between  R975 and R3 375 per month. Many people are still unhappy about the decision. The government, however has made it clear that they will not be changing their minds. We exposed the facts, now tell us what you think...  
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