City of Cape Town delays decision on social housing project

29 October 2018

The Cape Town City council was scheduled on Thursday to announce its decision on the sale of City-owned land to housing non-profit organisation Communicare for redevelopment for social housing, GroundUp has reported.

But the decision was pushed back to the next council meeting because “the DA caucus has some queries around the technical aspects of the report,” DA ward councillor for the area Dave Bryant said. The land in question is Salt River market along Voortrekker Road, located on two MyCiTi bus routes and alongside Salt River train station. CEO of Communicare Anthea Houston said of the delay: “This is a setback for those in need of affordable housing opportunities in the city … It would be huge loss to Cape Town if they pull out now.”

Some civil society organisations were outraged. “We are in the midst of a housing crisis and nothing can excuse council’s lack of urgency when so many people are being evicted,” said Jared Rossouw, co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi. “This is deeply disappointing and worrisome. It has been in the pipeline for over 10 years and been through two political party administrations,” said Helen Rourke, programme manager at the Development Action Group.

“I fully support it and want to see it happen as soon as possible,” Herron said. “We have an affordable housing crisis and this is a project that will help us address that crisis.” Rossouw said that if the project was approved by a council, “it would be a first for the city and set a precedent for social housing across the country”.

“We [Communicare] have spent R2.1-million so far in planning this project with extensive input from the City since 2014,” said Houston.
 She said the site could accommodate “about 750 units if nine storeys are built”. The plan is for 30% (210 units) to be used for social housing (households earning onder R15 000/month) and 14% (105 units) serving the gap market (households earning less than R22 000/month).

“The remaining 435 units would be market rentals,” said Houston. “This kind of social housing can go to four storeys or higher, as opposed to Breaking New Ground houses which don’t have funding to go much above one level. We need dense, tall buildings in well-located areas to get more use out of the same amount of land,” said Rossouw.

“And the only way to make this feasible is to cross-subsidise. Mixed-income works because it is a model that makes good long-term maintenance possible,” said Houston.
 GroundUp has written previously on the viability of subsidised social housing. See here. The next council meeting is scheduled for December 13, 2018. 

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