Where is Minister Sisulu's promised R600m 'rental relief'? - organisations demand answers

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
Isabel Venter
  • In July last year, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced that the department planned to allocate R600 million towards rental relief to tenants of affordable housing.
  • No details of the relief scheme have been shared.
  • Social movements and civil society organisations said in a joint statement that the consequences of the department’s failure to honour its promises to provide rent relief stands to be even more dire.

Social movements and civil society organisations have started a petition, calling on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to allocate and release funds intended for the Rent Relief Scheme.

Housing law advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi, Housing Assembly, Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and the Poor Flat Dwellers Movement, among others, said in a joint statement that there would be dire consequences as a result of the department’s failure to honour its promises to provide rent relief. 

READ | 'Switch that off': Sisulu's angry exchange with housing activist asking about building materials

"The minister herself has repeatedly stated that the pandemic has exacerbated existing social and economic inequalities. The national lockdowns imposed by the government to save lives have had the inadvertent effect of creating societal insecurity: many people have lost their incomes and livelihoods or have had their incomes diminished, are facing the threat of losing their homes and are experiencing unprecedented rates of hunger," the statement read.

In July last year, Sisulu announced in her budget vote speech that her department planned to allocate R600 million towards rental relief for tenants in affordable housing facing financial distress due to the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding was aimed at tenants in "formal affordable housing", and was meant to help those facing the threat of homelessness to meet their monthly rental obligations. Eight months after her public commitment, no details of the relief scheme have been shared.

"We are teetering on the brink of a secondary national disaster, where we stand to exacerbate a health crisis into a homelessness crisis. There is no doubt that landlords have had to be patient. But, should the regulations be amended in this way, it will lead to large-scale evictions - both legally and illegally - and a mass homelessness crisis like we have not seen before," they said.

ALSO READ | Government R600m rental relief scheme still untouched

Sisulu’s spokesperson Steven Motale told News24 that "plans are at an advanced stage for the rollout of the Residential Rent Relief fund. Two institutions reporting to the Department of Human Settlements, Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) and National Housing Finance Corporation have been tasked with a responsibility to execute this programme".

He said Sisulu wanted to make sure that all systems were in place, including the policy, before it was implemented.

"This is meant to ensure that only qualifying people benefit from this programme. The announcement on the roll out plan is expected to be made by mid-April this year."

    We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
    In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
    Subscribe to News24
    Voting Booth
    Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga says the party's voters want it to explore conditional coalition talks with the ANC. 
    Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
    It's a step in the right direction. An ANC-DA coalition would be the most stable option for SA
    32% - 3839 votes
    The DA should focus on working with all opposition parties, including the EFF, to unseat the ANC
    15% - 1715 votes
    The DA should rather remain in opposition than form a coalition with the ANC or the EFF
    53% - 6271 votes
    Rand - Dollar
    Rand - Pound
    Rand - Euro
    Rand - Aus dollar
    Rand - Yen
    Brent Crude
    Top 40
    All Share
    Resource 10
    Industrial 25
    Financial 15
    All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
    Editorial feedback and complaints

    Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.