Following months of pressure from ‘Reclaim the City‘ activists, the City of Cape Town has identified 10 sites that will develop in and near the Cape Town city centre for affordable housing for the poor.
Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Haron, said this week that the City had selected these specific sites as a part of an attempt to reverse apartheid spatial planning in Cape Town. He went on to mention that apartheid spatial planning is characterised by people being forced to live far from economic opportunities.
“We must acknowledge that, to date, our efforts to radically transform Cape Town’s spatial reality to enable all of our residents to participate more equally in the local economy have fallen short,” said Herron.
The 10 sites are in the inner city suburbs of Woodstock and Salt River and in the city centre. Three sites have already been tagged for social housing. Two developments in Woodstock will provide about 240 residential units for rent to households who earn an income of less than R15 000 a month. In Salt River’s Albert Road, where more than 10 families face eviction, a third development is planned to occupy that space.
The 476 units will be a combined mixture of social housing rental spaces for families earning less than R15 000 a month and GAP housing (rental unit for households that earn between R3 500 and R20 000 a month.)
People will need to be on the City’s housing database and pay rent in order to qualify for the Salt River and Woodstock units. To ensure that financial stability is retained, Herron said that the Salt River development will also include retail and office space.
Five additional parcels of land had been identified in Salt River and Woodstock for affordable housing, and that similar plans were being made to find sites for low-cost housing in the northern suburbs such as Belville and Goodwood, each which have their own city centres. Wynberg, Claremont and Plumstead sites in the southern suburbs are also being looked into for housing opportunities, as well as Parow, Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.
“This is a victory for people who are being priced out of well-located areas or facing eviction. It shows the power that residents have when they organise together to resist injustice and demand change,” Reclaim the City said in a statement.
Reclaim the City activists have faced eviction from Woodstock, Salt River and Sea Point where rental prices have become exceedingly high in recent years. Members brought court action against the City last year for offering Salt River evictees housing in a “relocation camp” in Wolwerivier, 30km from the inner city.
The activist group says that it will remain wary until the City shows that it will adhere to the deadlines and plans it has outlined for social housing developments.
“We will resist to stay in our homes until we see bricks, front doors and keys,” Reclaim the City said.
Five of the ten sites identified in the city centre, Woodstock and Salt River will be released to the private sector, who will become partners with the City in social housing development. The prospectus for these five developments will be presented to the public in two months.
The City is also committed to providing temporary housing for people in the Woodstock area who have been evicted, said Herron, which he hopes the city council will approve in a meeting on July 27.
Herron is also expected to publish and inclusive housing policy later this month, which will regulate the role of the private sector as partners in the development of affordable housing. Companies approved by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority and interested in partnering with the City have been asked to register on the City’s social housing database by the end of July.
Photography Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp