In recent months, many Cape Town communities have been rocked by chaotic and often violent protest action, highlighting the current Cape Town housing crisis.
Communities such as Vrygrond, Khayelitsha, Parkwood and most recently the Bo-Kaap have complained about the sky-high prices of backyard renting and overpopulation in small areas, as well as inadequate housing and high property valuations.
Two local graduates, Anees Arnold and Johnathan Wilson, appeared on CNBC Africa on Tuesday with a proposal that could spell an end to this crisis.
“We have identified a massive gap in Cape Town’s housing market for low-income earners, who earn less than R3 500 per month,” Wilson said.
The students’ research started in Delft, which Arnold refers to as one of Cape Town’s first post-Apartheid suburbs, after they noticed that there is a large market for backyard rentals in the community.
Back yard rentals refer to those who pay to live in structures in the backyards of others – often in shacks or wooden Wendy houses. Back yards also pay exorbitant amounts for rent as there are no regulations that govern this.
The solution, named LINK, aims to establish a safer living environment for lower-income residents of the Cape’s impoverished areas, and proposes creating a pool of funds to allow its contributors access to adequate housing.
“When we were conducting our research, we realized that there was a massive capacity to make returns on investment for the residents living in these areas,” Wilson said.
Wilson and Arnold found that there is an opportunity for locals who have RDP houses to upgrade these homes and allow for up to 10 units to be added on. One of the biggest drawbacks of this was the question of how residents would find funding when they earn R3 500 per month or less?
“That’s where our solution comes in,” Arnold said. “What we have found is that money moves around in informal settlements and lower-income settlements. So how do we pool this money together and designate it to one plot?”
Arnold went on to explain that when there is one person with access to a plot of land, the people in the pool can invest even R100 per month. This distribution of shared wealth will mean that when enough money is collected, the plot of land can be modified to accommodate those in the pool. This will grant the contributors better living conditions, and contribute to their overall quality of life.
Arnold and Wilson admit that the project is still in its infancy and that there are still many hiccups to smooth out. The project will do much to help relief the overall Cape Town housing crisis.