[Hpn] Fury As Fire Victims Jump Housing Queue

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Tue, 15 Feb 2005 07:59:58 -0500


Fury as fire victims jump housing queue

February 15 2005

By Philda Essop, Zanzile Khoisan and Ashley Smith

More than 140 000 people are on the the City of Cape Town's housing list -
and some have been there so long they have died waiting for a house.

The city has confirmed that many people have lived in backyard shacks and
squatter shacks for up to 18 years waiting for a council house.

This is one of the issues ratcheting up tension around the authorities'
decision to fast-track the provision of brick houses for the victims of the
Joe Slovo fire in Langa - many of whom are not on the waiting list.

'Some of the people died, so we will take a fresh look at the waiting list'
And as contractors clear the fire-damaged site, long-term residents of areas
such as Ravensmead, Bokmakierie and Epping Industria are unhappy that
thousands of people from Joe Slovo are to be temporarily housed among them.

Other Langa residents living in backyard shacks are also angry that Joe
Slovo fire victims are seemingly getting preferential treatment.

In the Masiphumelele settlement, near Fish Hoek, people blockaded the
Kommetjie road after a fire there a fortnight ago, complaining that while
Joe Slovo fire victims were to get brick houses, they were merely being
given starter kits to rebuild their shacks.

There have also been allegations that many of the Joe Slovo residents only
recently settled in the Western Cape and if they were on the housing list,
they came on to it late.

Last week backyard shack dwellers from Bokmakierie moved into the Spes Bona
hostel in a bid to prevent Joe Slovo residents from being placed there, and
on Friday several of the first temporary houses provided for the Joe Slovo
victims were trashed, presumably by envious backyard residents.

'At present we have no financial details about the capital budget for the
There is also confusion among the city's officials about how many people
were displaced in last month's inferno that razed 3 200 shacks in Joe Slovo.
Early figures quoted 12 000 homeless, but this estimate has risen to 20 000.

The Joe Slovo squatters will be among the first beneficiaries of the N2
Gateway housing project, which will see 22 000 homes built on several sites
at a cost of R2-billion.

On Monday opposition parties called on mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo to appoint a
multi-party oversight committee to ensure fair policies would guide
allocation of scarce housing resources.

The Western Cape has a backlog of more than
310 000 houses, of which 73 percent, or 226 300 units, are in greater Cape

According to research conducted by the Western Cape provincial government,
this backlog will rise to 460 000 houses by the year 2010 if the influx to
the province goes "unchecked".

A senior city official confirmed on Monday that more than 142 900 people are
registered on the council's waiting list for rental accommodation.

But Peter Loubser, manager of housing administration in the South Peninsula,
said the city had stopped building rental stock in 1979.

He explained that there were several formal waiting lists - one for each of
the administrations, including Helderberg, Oostenberg, Blaauwberg,
Tygerberg, Cape Town and the South Peninsula.

"In excess of 140 000 names appear on these lists. Only 49 500 rental units
are available in the metropolitan area from Cape Point to the Helderberg
region. This brings the average waiting period for a house to between 12 and
18 years," he said.

On Monday Mfeketo said she would soon make a fresh announcement on the
waiting lists.

While the city had moved away from building rental stock, national housing
policy made provision for rental housing, she said.

The Cape Town Community Housing Company, along with the city and banks,
helped people to save to build homes.

"We are in discussion about what to do with the waiting lists. Some of the
names on the list date back to the 1970s.

"Some of the people died, so we will take a fresh look at the waiting list
and make an announcement very soon."

The City approved a R263-million capital housing budget for the current
financial year, but this was slashed by R94 million, with most of this going
to the N2 Gateway Project.

The Western Cape provincial government planned during the 2004/2005
financial year to build at least 14 542 houses and develop and service at
least 16 647 sites.

The housing budget totalled R587-million, of which R141-million was unspent
money from the year before.

DA council caucus leader Kent Morkel said the DA supported the N2 Gateway
project "in principle".

"At present we have no financial details about the capital budget for the
scheme. Were told up to 30 percent of the housing will be allocated to
backyard shack dwellers and this is to be welcomed.

However, unless this matter is sensitively handled there is a real danger of
polarising relations between coloured and black communities."

In the Western Cape there is a backlog of more than 310 000 houses, 226 300
(73 percent) of them in the City of Cape Town.

If unchecked, this will rise to 460 000 by 2010.

The province planned to build at least 14 542 houses in the 2004/2005
financial year and develop and service at least 16 647 sites to create new
housing opportunities.

At least 48 000 people a year settle in the Western Cape from other

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Argus on February
15, 2005

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