‘Desperate’ for houses

2017-05-16 06:00
Members of the United Homeless People Development Association march to demand faster housing development.

Members of the United Homeless People Development Association march to demand faster housing development. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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Members of the United Homeless People Development Association participated in a service delivery protest in Steenberg last week, demanding houses and claiming that City of Cape Town officials “are dragging their feet”.

Last Wednesday, about 50 people marched while they sang they wanted houses now. The marchers started in Concert Boulevard, took a few minutes to picket at the rental office then moved to the Steenberg community centre where they wanted to talk to ward councillor Marita Petersen.

Howard Soetwater, chairperson of the association, says they have waited long enough.

“There is a disagreement between us and the City. We had a meeting but we didn’t get joy. The court ordered that we should get houses but the City is dragging their feet. The court said it is a matter of urgency, but the City is not keeping their promise to us.

“They are saying we should wait and be on the housing list. That’s not what was said by the court,” he says.

Taking part in the march was Elena Waters, a mother of four, who says life as a backyard dweller is unbearable.

“We are in desperate need of houses. The people dealing with this don’t take it as a priority because they go back to their comfortable homes. For us in informal settlements we sleep with one eye open because you never know when next someone will come bashing your house wanting to steal. If we had houses it would be better,” she says.

Mariam Meyer who also took part in the march agrees it’s a struggle for them and believes that having a house will take away their misery.

“I don’t want to be in the backyard forever. The City must prioritise our issue.”

As the marchers sang and chanted slogans outside Petersen’s office they were told she was not there. After numerous demands to get her to talk to them Steenberg police and City Law Enforcement officers were called to the centre.

Commenting on the matter, Petersen says: “He says they want houses. He says I must give answers why I’m blocking housing development at Crestway school. We in subcouncil 18 are driving the development to build houses. He wants people to squat and we stopped him and will continue to stop him. He is misleading and inciting the community. He is still charging people money and promising them houses.”

City of Cape Town spokesperson Nomawethu Tshona says they were not aware of the march and by the time of going to print they had not responded to People’s Post’s enquiry.

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