Housing a big issue for the election
Political capital drawn from DA’s record
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.