Hous­ing a big is­sue for the elec­tion

Po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal drawn from DA’s record

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - BULELWA PAYI

THE City of Cape Town’s claims that a flag­ship mixed-in­come hous­ing project in Salt River did not meet “tech­ni­cal” re­quire­ments have been re­jected as “an out­right lie” and is a re­flec­tion of the Demo­cratic Al­liance’s poor per­for­mance on so­cial hous­ing.

The DA in the Western Cape ad­mit­ted ear­lier this week that not a sin­gle so­cial hous­ing project in the City Bowl had been im­ple­mented.

The Salt River Mar­ket project, was ac­cord­ing to plans, de­signed to cater for peo­ple liv­ing and work­ing in and around Salt River.

As a mixed-in­come de­vel­op­ment, it would in­clude so­cial hous­ing for house­holds with in­comes up to R15 000, as well as for the gap mar­ket, whose in­comes were too high to ben­e­fit from govern­ment sub­si­dies but could not ac­cess bank loans.

For­mer may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for trans­port and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment Brett Her­ron, who was blamed by the DA for be­ing partly re­spon­si­ble for halt­ing this and other pro­jects , hit back this week, say­ing the party was “ly­ing” as every ques­tion re­lated to the project had been an­swered.

“The project has a long his­tory; we did some pre­sen­ta­tions to sub­coun­cils and to the cau­cus. I even gave them a memo. It was dur­ing one of the meet­ings where JP Smith said the term ‘trans­for­ma­tion’ was a swear word to him. If there were any le­git­i­mate con­cerns or ques­tions, th­ese would have been raised with me. And no one did.

“In­stead, the ward coun­cil­lor in (whose re­gion) the project fell did not even have the guts to stand up in coun­cil to tell why the project was be­ing stopped.

“The truth is that there was no will­ing­ness to have so­cial hous­ing pro­jects on high-value land in good lo­ca­tions”, Her­ron said.

Her­ron said the de­liv­ery of so­cial hous­ing was crit­i­cal to al­le­vi­ate Cape Town and South Africa’s hous­ing cri­sis be­cause most peo­ple on the hous­ing de­mand data­base did not qual­ify for free govern­ment RDP or Break­ing New Ground hous­ing.

By last year, more than half-a-mil­lion peo­ple were on the wait­ing list for hous­ing in the province.

Al­though the City Coun­cil said the project had not been canned but that a re­port was be­ing com­piled to ad­dress the “tech­ni­cal” as­pects that were raised, fears have been raised about other hous­ing pro­jects where so­cial hous­ing was to be in­cluded.

Th­ese in­clude Green Point bowl­ing green, Fore­shore Precinct, Parow and Clare­ment pro­jects.

A DA in­sider said some ward coun­cil­lors were busy lob­by­ing be­hind the scenes for the Green Point project not to be sup­ported as this “was too close to elec­tions”.

Both the coun­cil and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment own large tracts of land in the City Bowl which have not been used for af­ford­able hous­ing since the DA came into power.

Her­ron re­signed from the party last week, cit­ing frus­tra­tion at the party’s lack of de­sire and ur­gency to tackle crit­i­cal is­sues such as hous­ing.

Com­mu­ni­care chief ex­ec­u­tive, Anthea Hous­ton said the com­pany was “sur­prised” that the coun­cil had sent the project back for fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion be­cause it had been en­gag­ing with it for fours years and the project met all the re­quire­ments it had spec­i­fied.

“No men­tion was made that the project was can­celled, but rather that the de­ci­sion re­gard­ing the dis­posal of the land would be re­ferred to the next coun­cil meet­ing on December 13,” Hous­ton said.

She added the com­pany had at­tended a meet­ing with coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Oc­to­ber 31 where they had pro­vided clar­i­fi­ca­tion where it was sought.

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