Backyard dwellers who have been on the housing list for several years are not only questioning why it is taking so long for them to get homes, they are also frustrated at the sight of empty houses in the Pelican Park development.
This as they are forced from pillar to post with their children in desperation for shelter.
Pelican Park incorporates 2 100 government subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses with 730 GAP and Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) houses available to people earning between R9 000 and R15 000 a month. The first group of beneficiaries moved into the scheme in 2013.
Those on the housing list are questioning the City of Cape Town’s housing delivery policy, calling it “unfair”, and want to know what the delay is in getting houses in the New Horizon BNG or GAP schemes.
The backyard dwellers are also baffled as to why family members or strangers are living in the homes of beneficiaries who have died. They also wanted to know why some beneficiaries leave their houses vacant, while people on the list could have filled that space.
Abe Braaf, a paralegal and founder of the advice office in New Horizon, said he also did some research and found out that some beneficiaries of New Horizon houses are not living in the houses themselves but renting it out.
Mr Braaf, who is also a beneficiary of the New Horizon scheme, said the residents have identified that in Roadrunner Street there are three empty houses.
“Number 1 Roadrunner’s owner passed away a few months ago and now an occupant is living in the house. Number 3 Roadrunner Street is empty and in number 6 Roadrunner Street there is someone renting the house.”
He said the residents find it “odd” that these houses can be rented out while people on the housing list are still waiting with their big families for a place to call home. These people have to move from a backyard dwelling to perhaps a room in a family member’s house with their children.
Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the allocation of housing is done in accordance with an allocation policy to ensure that the system is fair, transparent and that no one jumps the queue.
“The allocation of private assets (including homes) from deceased estates is a private matter. Housing beneficiaries are free to leave their assets to their children or whomever they choose. The renting of units, once a property has been transferred to a beneficiary, is similarly a private arrangement between the owner (beneficiary) and the tenant.
“Individuals must be registered as potential beneficiaries on the municipality’s housing database in order to be considered for a housing opportunity.
The housing database is compiled according to the national government’s subsidy criteria and allocation policy. The City makes provision for rental and ownership (usually as BNG or GAP/site and service) housing opportunities.
“Properties in a deceased estate follow a legal process via the Master of the High Court. The City encourages new homeowners to get their title deeds of their house and draft a will which stipulates what should happen with their estate/assets in the event of death. A bank or lawyer can help with this,” said Mr Herron.
Mr Braaf said the backyard dwellers said they are on the housing list but don’t get feedback from the City even after updating their status every year.
Some of the frustrated backyard dwellers spoke to Southern Mail.
Lee Anne van Schalkwyk said she has been on the list since 1992.
She said she followed up to find out how far she was on the list three years ago. She is living in a bungalow in Parkwood.
However, Mr Herron said Ms Van Schalkwyk applied on September 11 2013 and has only been on the list for three years and 11 months.
Rosemary Matthys, 66, said she has been on the waiting list for 35 years. “Over the years I have been sleeping in a van, with my six children. I am now living in a room in a zinc house in Grassy Park.”
She said in 2000 she applied for a split application after she got divorced from her husband as spouses then have to be placed on the housing list separately.
Mr Herron said she applied on July 3 2000 and her application was submitted for the Pelican Park project.
Marcellio Booysen said he has been on the waiting list for 16 years.
But Mr Herron said: “Mr Booysen applied on January 22 2014 and his application was put forward for a GAP housing project in Delft as he earns in excess of
R3 500 per month and is therefore not eligible for a BNG house.”
Mr Booysen said he also applied for a split application last year and three months ago again. “I am still waiting on a response.” He said he is living all over the Cape, with family and friends.
Alistair Job has been on the list since 1997. Mr Herron’s response was that Mr Job applied in January 1997 and he was offered a flat in Parkwood in September 2016 but he declined the housing opportunity and will have to await another offer. Mr Job also said he applied for a split application after he divorced his wife.
Mr Braaf said there are also many senior citizens who need homes.
“There are also many seniors who are waiting to be accommodated in a complex promised by the City for seniors.”
But Mr Herron said the City is not planning to build a housing complex for senior citizens only.
“We do, however, prioritise senior citizens on the City’s database for allocations if they are qualifying beneficiaries. However, those beneficiaries in an area who have been on the housing database the longest are offered opportunities first.
“Furthermore, the City’s Allocation Policy categorises aged persons (60 years and older) under the special needs category. Each housing project reserves a dedicated provision for a certain percentage of the housing opportunities for these persons.”
Mr Braaf said he is not happy with the City’s response regarding the back dwellers concerns and said: “We will be doing an intensive investigation, from September 1, about our concerns as listed, and residents who have queries about their housing situation may contact our office at 071 216 9894 or WhatsApp the same number or email firstname.lastname@example.org”