Local housing allocation row
SOMERSET WEST – About 80 people gathered outside the Lourensia Park housing development on Monday morning (3 August), staging a protest and threatening to bring construction work to a halt.
Our people have been waiting for years to have a home but the last applicants, people who are not even from here, are getting houses before us.
Residents are irate that many beneficiaries of the project are people from other areas, such as Saldanha Bay, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
“The people of Garden Village are the rightful beneficiaries,” John Pretorius, a member of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), declared.
A few weeks ago the first few houses were officially handed over to the first beneficiaries, of whom five were residents of Garden Village.
“Our people have waited for years to have a home, but the last beneficiaries are mainly people who are not even from here. They are getting houses before we do,” Pretorius said.
The protesters were largely peaceful, holding placards up demanding housing, as Law Enforcement kept a watchful eye.
Malusi Booi, Mayoral Committee member for Human Settlements, explained the initial project was originated by the then Helderberg Municipality around 2000. Actual construction took place in 2010-’11, the first phase of 216 units being completed by December 2011.
The committee representing the community was formed at the time and, in consultation with the then Helderberg Council, a list of proposed beneficiaries was submitted to the council, and was approved at the time. Not all the approved beneficiaries on the list approved by council could be accommodated, due to the limited number of completed houses.
The current project, Lourensia Park Phase 2, was started in 2017, with the completion of the engineering services the end of that year. The construction of the top structures for Phase 2 commenced last year.
“The selection of beneficiaries for housing projects is done in accordance with the City’s Allocation Policy and Housing Database to ensure housing opportunities are allocated to qualifying beneficiaries in a fair and equitable manner,” Booi pointed out.
“The beneficiary target areas are determined in consultation with the community’s representatives and submitted to a Housing Allocation Committee for approval.”
He added that the rightful beneficiaries for the Lourensia Park project are those approved by the then
Helderberg Municipality, according to the Housing Allocation Policy.
“The Phase 2 project has a total of 150 opportunities,” Booi said. “Of these slightly more than 30% were remaining approved beneficiaries from Phase 1, while the remaining beneficiaries were then as per the Housing Database.
“The community has consistently been informed of the City’s process of beneficiary selection, including the relevant policies and their roles. This confirmed the City was fulfilling its roles strictly in accordance with its mandates.”
Asked how many of the beneficiaries were from areas outside Garden Village, Booi responded the list of names of approved beneficiaries was made public, as per policy.
“It must be made clear that the
City’s policy allows for beneficiaries from ‘other’ areas,” he explained. “In fact, it is a prerequisite that opportunities must be available to residents of the wider area, because there is a great housing need in many communities – but the City’s resources, public money, are limited.
“Applicants are allowed to provide an address that serves as their application address. The general public tends to assume a housing project close to their area would be for ‘their’ people only. That is not correct. It would not be fair.
“It is not possible for the City to undertake projects per ward or per subcouncil area only. The projects are for the benefit of the broader community.”
Booi concluded that discussions on the beneficiaries of this project have been ongoing and the outcome has been explained repeatedly.
“Unfortunately, towards the end of the project some parties do not want to accept the answers given and continue to try and disrupt the project in the hopes of obtaining a different answer.”