Cape Town's drastic plan for affordable housing

2017-03-29 12:22
City of Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

City of Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town wants the whole city to be declared a restructuring zone, which will allow for any suitable land to be used for social housing.

It announced on Tuesday that about R101bn was needed for another 650 000 housing opportunities over the next 20 years.

"This is a mammoth task. Addressing such a scale of need requires a radical shift in our financing and planning strategies and delivery methods," mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said in a statement.

He said the city's Transport and Urban Development Authority on Tuesday informed the national human settlements minister and the provincial government of its intention to declare the whole city a restructuring zone.

A restructuring zone is a demarcated area where a national subsidy can be used to build social housing.


According to the Social Housing Act of 2008, the national human settlements minister designates a restructuring zone following identification by a municipality.

"There are ample opportunities for affordable housing in many areas across the metro, and the development and availability of affordable rental accommodation in central areas of the city must play a key role in the future development of Cape Town," Herron said.

"Currently, however, the city cannot get access to social housing grants from national government unless suitable land is located within a restructuring zone."

If the whole city was declared a restructuring zone, it would speed up the development of affordable housing. This was however subject to the Western Cape government and the national minister's approval.

The city's restructuring zones were approved in 2010, after the promulgation of the Social Housing Act, Herron said.

The city intended reversing the spatial legacy of apartheid planning, he said.

"No eligible site or land that meets the criteria for the provision of affordable housing should be excluded to promote integration, reverse the legacy of apartheid, and provide safe and accessible housing to lower-income groups on the basis of the Social Housing Act of 2008."

Court case

Herron announced the drastic plan after Reclaim the City activists occupied the Woodstock Hospital and the Helen Bowden Nurses Home on Saturday. They did this in response to the provincial government's plan to sell the Tafelberg school property in Sea Point.

The issue had become the centre of a major debate on what should happen to the land.

Reclaim the City had called on the province to develop the properties into affordable housing.

When the Western Cape government announced last Wednesday that it would sell the Tafelberg property to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School, it said it could not be developed into social housing as it fell outside the current restructuring zone.

This meant it did not qualify for the national subsidy to build social housing units, the provincial cabinet had said.

Proceeds of the sale of the Tafelberg school would be used for the refurbishment of a governmental building in Dorp Street.

In a statement on Monday, Reclaim the City said it had instructed its lawyers to fight the sale of the Tafelberg property in the Constitutional Court.

"The province, like the colonial and apartheid governments before it, has ensured that the beneficiaries of racial discrimination, who are mostly white people, continue to access, own and occupy our well-located public land," it said.

Reclaim the City is a subsidiary of the non-profit organisation, Ndifuna Ukwazi, and advocates for the construction of affordable housing in central Cape Town.

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing

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