De Lille urges: Build better homes for the poor

City agreement with developers expected to fast track land approvals and rezoning for affordable housing

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Photo of protesters
Activists campaigning for affordable housing in the City Bowl and Sea Point for low-income families. File photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

“When we invest in properties, the value goes up, but some of the rubbish we build for poor people has no value,” said Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.

She was speaking to a group of social housing developers who will be managing the City’s affordable housing sites over the next few years. At the meeting held in the Civic Centre on Tuesday, City officials signed an agreement with 19 developers to fast track the delivery of social housing in the inner-city.

De Lille said, “The inner-city has become unaffordable due to increased land prices and property market trends. We need public-private partnerships that have proven to be successful with many other housing projects … When government builds people don’t want to pay, but you make sure people pay. People also can’t just expect everything to be free.”

De Lille said the agreement was part of the City’s five-year plan to drive integration in the city. She also urged the developers to “take risks” by building higher buildings to include more units and “worry about the cost of elevators later”.

After the meeting, several developers told GroundUp they were glad the agreement would help with “red tape” such as land rezoning and departmental approvals.

Anthea Houston, CEO of Communicare, lauded the City for “buying into the spatial integration of our city”, something which she said was not happening in any other municipality.

Communicare is part of the development of the Salt River Market site which is expected to include social housing, GAP rental housing as well as a few shops and offices. Houston said the Salt River project could set the tone for future affordable housing projects in the inner-city.

She said the City would be subsidising some of the units, but that they still needed to raise their own funding. “It’s definitely a long timeline and one that both we and the City are committed to keep as short as possible – but we’re talking years,” she said.

Renier Erasmus, CEO of Madulammoho Housing Association, said that most of the inner-city developments would only start to break ground in 2019. “Construction could take years to get started. This year will give us good preparation time to get conditions and agreement times with the City right. The construction of these will flow in early 2019 although there are some projects that are closer to finalisation,” he said.

Madulammoho is part of a tender for the contract to develop the Conradie site in Thornton. It has social housing projects in Scottsdene with 500 units and 630 units in Belhar.

Werner Jurgens of the Cape Town Community Housing Company said, “In the past we were limited to only a few partners and that dictated how many units we were able to deliver.”

CTCHC is embroiled in a legal battle with beneficiaries facing eviction at some of its current housing sites. Luyoloville in Gugulethu is one of the sites where residents have accused the company of shoddy workmanship and unfair charges.

TOPICS:  City Housing

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