Hospital now turned to home

The old Woodstock Hospital now acts as a home for homeless people.PHOTO: thabang kuaho
The old Woodstock Hospital now acts as a home for homeless people.PHOTO: thabang kuaho

People with no homes have appealed to the City of Cape Town to assist them to get decent houses and have vowed to continue living at the old Woodstock Hospital.

Known to its occupants as the Cissie Gool House, the hospital now serves as a place of residence to about 490 people. Cissie Gool House is part of Reclaim the City, a movement which aims to make sure people have decent housing.

The City’s Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, says the City is aware of the illegal occupation of the premises and has obtained an interim interdict to prevent further illegal occupation.

Chapter leader for Reclaim the City, Karen Hendricks, has been living at Cissie Gool House with her father and 11-year-old son since October last year after they were evicted from their home.

She says the community of Cissie Gool House consists of families and individuals who are either not working or do not earn enough to afford proper housing.

“Because there are a lot of elderly people and children living at the premises, we would like the City to meet their obligation of providing affordable housing. Eleven sites around Woodstock and the inner city have been proposed for affordable housing,” she said.

“We would also like the City to engage with us about land and housing issues because the housing backlog is so huge that we are sitting in the middle of a housing crisis.”

Booi further added that a team of City officials was tasked with identifying land for housing projects and the evaluation of land for further housing projects.

“The City is further assessing City-owned land to determine whether some of these properties could be developed for housing opportunities, be it for transitional, affordable or social housing, or state-subsidised Breaking New Ground housing,” he added.

“The City is investigating whether buildings within central business districts across Cape Town can be developed or converted into affordable rental accommodation. These investigations are ongoing,” he concluded.

Hendricks also said that the movement was planning to hold an open day where members of the public can see how the people there live and that where people live actually matters.

Although this is an alternative form of accommodation for the people, living conditions at Cissie Gool House are not bad.

“We have running water and electricity. [And] apart from the societal ills of drug addiction and unemployment, we have very little disturbances within the premises,” Hendricks added.

Hendricks said anyone who would like to donate anything can contact her.

V For more information contact 073 586 9241 or visit www.reclaimthecity.org.za.

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