City commits to accommodating Maynard Street tenants

“There will be no evictions” says councillor

Photo of Maynard Street

Residents of Maynard Street in Cape Town’s city bowl have feared being evicted after the City indicated that it intended to sell their houses. Photo: Aidan Jones

By Aidan Jones

8 June 2018

Tenants of City-owned houses on Maynard Street, Cape Town who fear being left homeless met with City officials on Thursday evening at the Civic Centre to discuss the future of their homes.

“There will be no evictions of any of the residents,” said Councillor Stuart Diamond, Mayoral Committee Member for Assets and Facilities Management, who chaired the meeting. “I want to make that very clear: we are not putting anybody out on the street.”

On 27 November 2015 the City advertised the properties for possible sale. Anxiety spiked amongst the residents after a letter from the Property Management Department on 20 April 2016 to one of the residents stated that the City’s Valuation Department “is currently busy finalising” valuations of the properties, and that if residents “are unable to afford to purchase the property at full market value” the City would consult with the residents “to find an amicable solution”.

Jerome Izaaks, spokesperson and community leader said most of the tenants are pensioners, previously disadvantaged and low-income individuals. He said they feared not being able to afford market-value prices. “We want to be given the opportunity to purchase the houses at a just and fair price,” said Izaaks. He said the houses have not been properly maintained and that the price of the property needs to reflect the condition it is in.

Brandon Golding, councillor for ward 77, which includes all the properties in question, pointed out that “there was a lack of proper communication which really did cause a lot of unhappiness and unsettlement by people. So we will set that right, right here, right now”.

“Yes, we have dropped the ball,” said Diamond. “I think as officials and as politicians we have to admit when we haven’t delivered and haven’t done a process correctly.”

“The promises that were made in 2016; we must put a timescale together and work to getting that done,” said Diamond.

Diamond said that the City would be doing valuations based on the condition of the properties and would engage individually with each tenant to establish their particular circumstances.

“We will make you the offer to purchase the property, and if you cannot purchase the property we will not throw you out … We will put a lease together that caters for you,” Diamond told the residents. “However, part of the deal if you are someone leasing the property is that you have to pay your rental.”

Diamond said one-on-one engagements are important to understand each family’s circumstances. He urged that over the next two weeks a schedule be put together of what is required and that officials be held accountable “to deliver on those timeframes”. He suggested that Izaaks arrange a schedule for when the tenants will be available.

“When we engage with the tenant it’s not a final decision or a final agreement or offer,” said Ruby Gelderbloem, Director of Property Management. “We get the parameters from TDA [Transport and Urban Development]. We determine value around that. We negotiate to some sort of solution, then that gets put up to council for approval.”

“The idea here is to sell to the current users,” said Diamond. “The major question is if they can’t afford to go to a bank and get a loan … would the City look at alternative mechanisms to do it?” He stressed that no sales can take place if a tenant has debt.

Izaaks said the meeting had “settled a lot of uneasiness” among the residents and that he is “cautiously optimistic”. He said he wanted the matter to be resolved “by the end of this year”.

The next meeting between the councillors and residents is expected to take place in the week of 25 June in Gardens.

Diamond explained that he did not attend the last meeting on 21 May because he had prior commitments to a sub-council meeting, which he had informed council of on 18 May.

Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development, was also scheduled to attend Thursday evening’s meeting. A representative from his office attended in his place, saying Herron could not make it because “he has another meeting in another ward elsewhere in the City”.

City announces big budget spending for housing opportunities

On Thursday Herron announced that the TDA “will spend R2.1 billion on the development of new housing opportunities over the next three financial years, with R590 million being budgeted for 2018/19 alone”.

Herron’s statement said that “the 2018/19 budget is allocated to 36 housing developments which are either in the planning phase, already under way, or in the process of being finalised”.

It said the projects would be located “within the city’s urban inner core” and close to public transport. None of the projects listed in the statement are situated in the City Bowl, with Salt River being the closest.

It also said the TDA would budget R155 million “to fund the acquisition of additional well-located land parcels for future housing projects” in the next financial year.

One example of a potentially well-located parcel of land is the City-owned former bowling green in Green Point, which Herron recently told GroundUp is “the City’s intention to develop”.

“The intention is to have a mixed use development which will include affordable housing,” said Herron. He added that this would depend on required processes, including public participation, and the necessary approvals by council and other spheres of government.