While the City of Cape Town says affordable housing is a crucial challenge in their five-year plan, critics say a long-term solution is needed to address the crisis.
The City presented their five-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for 2012 to 2017 at the Cape Town Civic Centre last week.
They cited affordable housing initiatives on the Foreshore and in Clifton to address the need.
The presentation was made by deputy mayor Ian Neilson to businesses as part of the public participation processes.
Businesses and ratepayers’ associations have been invited to make their own presentations in the beginning of October.
The City of Cape Town has estimated that in the next five years there will be a need for housing for a further 650 000 households.
The Atlantic Sun asked the City what they were doing to address the issue. Mr Nielson said not all open land was suitable for social housing.
“If land is too small or of an irregular shape, for instance, the development cost would be high, requiring a high income stream for a developer to justify a development. It would then exclude the potential for inclusionary housing.
“However, in the Foreshore Freeway project, there are more extensive land parcels, and here, the City is requiring the developer to provide inclusionary housing. This is also the case for the Clifton development from which proceeds from the sale are earmarked for the provision of social housing.”
The City have identified two social housing projects about 3km away from the City Bowl in Woodstock and Salt River. “Cape Town is now following world trends. Unlike many other South African cities, Cape Town central has few vacant open spaces or derelict buildings available for redevelopment,” said Mr Nielson.
When asked what the City were doing to address housing challenges near the City Bowl, Mr Nielson said: “Provision of the scale required means that the entire metro area has to be considered. It would not be possible to provide 650 000 households with housing opportunities in as small an area as the city centre.
“We cannot use a blanket approach to these matters and, as a responsible government, we have to consider many factors at the same time. The specifics of each property have to be assessed when deciding on specific development requirements.”
However, the Cape Chamber of Commerce says the City of Cape Town needs to re-think their strategy when it comes to affordable housing.
President of the Chamber, Janine Myburgh, said: “We believe that it should start with an inventory of public owned land near the city. We also need to talk to government departments like Transnet and the Defence Force on some of the land they own and which is underused. I believe that if we work together there should be scope for some major housing developments within easy reach of the city.”
She pointed out that there were still large vacant areas in District Six and it was high time these were developed. Other challenges over the next five years that the Chamber said the City needed to focus on includes water shortages along with climate change and traffic congestion.
Ms Myburgh saidthe Chamber welcomed the City’s approach to the new IDP and they would be making some practical suggestions during the public participation process.
Julian Sendin, who is a researcher at activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi, said they would be participating in the IDP process and have requested a slot for presenting. On top of their list for priorities will be affordable housing near the city centre. He agreed with the Chamber of Commerce, and have been asking for a full audit of government-owned land in Cape Town for a while. “We are not asking for every piece of land to be used for affordable housing but we are asking for affordable housing to get a piece of the pie. Why should thousands of people pen their hopes on projects like the Forshore or Clifton one which might take years to develop or might never materialise.”
Mr Sendin also questioned why the City of Cape Town had to sell public land in order get affordable housing. “These projects need to be done on a smaller scale such as the Tafelberg site in Sea Point.”
He criticised the Forshore housing project as a pre-election process. He said had the smaller scale projects, such as in Woodstock and Salt River, which had been earmarked years ago, been completed it could have been a solution for thousands of people who needed affordable housing.
Hearings on the IDP will be conducted between Tuesday October 4 and Friday October 7. All the written and verbal comments received throughout the engagement process will be considered and presented to council for approval next year. Members of the public are requested to submit proposals on how the housing needs of the city are to be met.
In June, the Atlantic Sun reported that various ratepayers and residents associations had shown their support for social housing in the area (“Ratepayers support social housing”, Atlantic Sun, Thursday June 23) The Reclaim the City Campaign had received support from the Green Point, City Bowl and Bo-Kaap Ratepayers Associations.
Chris Willemse, chairperson of the Camps Bay Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association said the group wouldn’t be participating in the City’s IDP public participation process. “There has to be a balance but the Clifton and Foreshore development, which many people say will not work, don’t have affordable housing in mind.”He said a balanced process would consider people already living in the area and those who needed social housing.