500 houses planned for Retreat

There are plans to build 500 state-subsidised houses on this land behind Crestway High School.

A R110 million project to build 500 state-subsidised houses on land behind Crestway High School in Retreat is on the drawing board and work could run from February 2023 to December 2025 if all goes to plan, says the City of Cape Town.

Feasibility studies are being done at the site, says mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi.

The Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses would go to beneficiaries selected through the municipality’s housing allocation procedures, Mr Booi said.

“State-subsidised housing opportunities are allocated to qualifying beneficiaries according to the date that they registered with the City’s housing needs register and allocation policy. This is to ensure that housing opportunities are allocated in a fair, transparent manner and to prevent queue-jumping.”

Anyone wishing to be considered for housing opportunities should put their name on the register, he said.

The City of Cape Town has a backlog of 360 000 to 400 000 houses, according to the Human Science Research Council (HSRC).

In 2016, the City obtained a court order to stop the Crestway site from being illegally occupied. This followed clashes between the police and members of a group calling itself the United Homeless People’s Association (UHPA) who had occupied the field calling for housing to be built there.

The founder of the group, Howard Soetwater, believes 80% of the BNG houses planned for the site should to UHPA members, many of whom are backyard dwellers and tenants.

“We are the founding members of that piece of land because we identified it,” he said. “We protested to make it a reality. We sacrificed, burnt tyres and were advocating for the land to be used for housing. Why should other people who didn’t sacrifice benefit from our hard work?”

All UHPA members were on the housing waiting list, he said.

However, Mr Booi said the UHPA had been told the Crestway housing project was far from being a done deal.

“It was also emphasised to the UHPA that, in the event that the human settlements directorate was to obtain the necessary approvals to commence with a housing development in respect of the relevant properties, this would not mean that members of the UHPA would be given preference in respect of the housing opportunities arising from any such project.”

Mr Soetwater claimed some beneficiaries of the Pelican Park housing development had not been on the waiting list, but Mr Booi said that was not true.

Ward 110 councillor Shanen Rossouw said due process had to be followed and only those on the waiting list would benefit.

“The question boils down to how long people have been on the waiting list and the beneficiary’s salary bracket. There are people who have been on the waiting list for over 30 years, and my understanding is that people who have been on the waiting list for over 18 years and up will be considered first.”

Ms Rossouw said meetings would be held to inform the community about the way forward. No beneficiary list had been compiled yet, she added.

Denise Albertus, who has been on the waiting list with her husband for 23 years, hopes they will be among the beneficiaries. The couple live with their daughter and three grandchildren in a Steenberg wendy house.

“Our life as backyarders is very difficult because we do not have any say. We get locked out, rent and electricity are increased whenever they feel like, and there are lots of quarrels that me and my family have to deal with.

“If we have a house of our own, no matter how small, it will be ours and we’ll be able to live in peace.”