Housing headaches

2015-09-15 06:00
The Cellar family from Hanover Park currently live in a toilet and have been on a housing waiting list for eight years. The family have tried to find housing at New Horizons in Pelikan Park but was shown away after officials got other applicants ahea

The Cellar family from Hanover Park currently live in a toilet and have been on a housing waiting list for eight years. The family have tried to find housing at New Horizons in Pelikan Park but was shown away after officials got other applicants ahea

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Questions and claims of fraud has come to light after information regarding irregularities at the New Horizons housing development came into question.

And despite queries directed straight to the mayor and premier’s office, a community organisation – Hanover Park Backyard Dwellers Organisation (HPBDO) – says they have not yet received any answers.

Director of the HPBDO, Ricardo Sedres, says they deal with various issues relating to housing and decided to initiate an investigation after receiving information about a possible scam in New Horizons.

“There are definitely some irregularities happening in the New Horizons development. People who haven’t been on the waiting list very long are being allocated houses,” Sedres says.

In a letter written to premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday 2 September, Sedres stated that “for years people on the Cape Flats have been misled regarding housing shortages”.

Sedres said while taking a drive in Pelikan Park they came across a lady who has been on the waiting list since 1997 and two years ago, after following up with the housing office how far her application was, she was told she would be part of the second phase in New Horizons.

“Her friend received a call to move into the second phase before her. Two weeks went by and [she received] no call. She then proceeded to the Cape Town offices again and to her shock she found out she was apparently never on the list,” Sedres explains.

He adds the woman then had to fill in another application form – a process which could take even longer than the 18 years she has already been waiting.

Sedres handed People’s Post documents listing the beneficiaries who now live in New Horizons. Some of them were put onto a waiting list as recently as this year.

“We received information that somehow people working for the City of Cape Town can jig the system in a way to put other people ahead on the waiting list. They are paying someone or people R3 500 and they receive a key to a house after being approved on the system. We first did our own investigation because we did not want to make false allegations. We want answers from the City telling us how this works,” Sedres says.

Hanover Park resident Colin Sellar (44) has been on a housing waiting list for eight years and says he is fed up of waiting if “this is the way they treat people who went through the correct processes”.

“I went to New Horizons one day to enquire if Hanover Park residents also qualify for the development. The woman at the desk told me flat out no they do not,” Sellar says.

He adds suspicion was raised when the woman on the other side of the desk made mention that one of the women in the queue was her family and they should “squeeze her in”.

Sellar says this upsets him because he currently lives in “a toilet” in council rental stock with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. “We have no where else to go and living in these conditions are not ideal at all.

“We have moved our stuff into this toilet where my daughter sleeps on the floor and we are subject to seeing everyone who wants to use the toilet at any given time,” he says.
The City says they are “investigating the particulars of the persons mentioned.”
“It is important to note that the City goes to great lengths to ensure that the allocation of houses is done in strict accordance with the Allocation Policy,” the City’s brief comment reads.
 
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