Housing hurdles

United Homeless People Development Association held a picket on Sunday January 27.

While most people are happy about housing development plans for areas in Sub-council 18, a group of backyarders are not pleased.

The United Homeless People Development Association (UHPDA) held a picket on Sunday January 27 to voice their concerns about the building process.

Since 2012 UHPDA has earmarked and lobbied for housing in Nectar Road in Retreat; Peter Charles Street in Cafda and on the open land behind Crestway High School in Retreat.

The City of Cape Town’s human settlements department had the sites environmentally screened.

The open piece of land in Peter Charles Street was mostly wetland, with space for only 97 units and was too limited, while Nectar Road was also wetland and subject to a land claim.

So the department set its sights on using the land behind Crestway High School for a future project that could accommodate about 1 530 units.

Howard Soetwater, founder and chairperson of UHPDA, claimed the City of Cape Town’s processes are unfair and drawn out.

This comes after planning steering committees were established in December last year in Ward 67, which includes Pelican Park and Vrygrond, and Ward 68, which includes Retreat. Ward 110’s steering committee will be established soon.

Mr Soetwater said a steering committee must be established based on the beneficiaries who are going to live on the land.

“There is no way the steering committee can be elected without the beneficiaries and with organisations like soccer clubs or religious organisations that have nothing to do with housing,” said Mr Soetwater.

He said the organisation submitted a business plan with the proposal of the land behind Crestway High School more than two years ago.

“As an organisation we had a right to do that and in terms of the national housing policies our plan needs to be considered. All the backyard dwellers, from other areas, who we have partnered with, are disappointed that we were left out of the establishment of the steering committee,” said Mr Soetwater.

He is also concerned that different steering committees were established in the different

“The Crestway piece of land is in Ward 110. Now there’s different steering committees which means that people from other wards are not going to be considered, instead they’re going to take people from other areas to live there. We will not be dictated to. We who took the project forward for the past six years and occupied the land deserve to be on the steering committee. Then at the end of it the City and councillors want to claim the victory for the fight we fought,” he said.

Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen said the processes of establishing a steering committee were followed.

“Organisations as well as the beneficiaries and officials and a councillor are the composition of a steering committee. An invitation was sent out to inform people and there were many people. The beneficiaries list for my ward has not yet been generated but they will come on-board after. There were, however, six organisations who are now part of the steering committee. Mr Soetwater and his organisation cannot be elected to be on the steering committee in my ward because his organisation is registered in Ward 110, which will established a committee soonest.”

She also said different steering committees are established in different wards because there are various housing developments happening in the ward, including the Greater Retreat Housing Development.

“It’s best to have a steering committee in each ward because of multiple housing developments in each ward so that each organisation can raise concerns and
this will be taken to an umbrella body so that each area will be
fairlyrepresented,”saidMs Petersen.

Responding to Mr Soetwater, Ms Petersen said he is trying to intimidate the process.

“He is using and abusing the vulnerable and the poorest of the poor by charging them money and promising them housing. We have the community’s best interest at heart and we are doing all we can to secure housing. Only people who are on the housing list will be considered for housing and people should not give Howard Soetwater or anybody else that promises you a house any money,” said Ms Petersen.

Ward 110 councillor and Sub-council 18 chairperson Shanen Rossouw said due processes are being followed.

“When my ward’s steering committee is established the UHPDA will be on the steering committee, if it is registered on the database and constituted. The housing development is a milking cow for his own benefit. (Mr Soetwater) is lying to the people and telling them they will be given housing. There will be housing but it’s only for people who are on the waiting list.

“We need people to be patient because we have a system in choosing beneficiaries,” said Ms Rossouw.

Responding to claims that he was hoaxing vulnerable people to pay money to him to secure
housing, Mr Soetwater previously told Southern Mail: “This is not true. I am asking members for a R50 donation to pay for administration costs. We have print-
ing, transport and other admin costs”.