A new R30 million housing development in Ottery has restored hope for backdwellers and informal settlement residents.
Construction on the housing scheme, which will be built in Edward Avenue, opposite the Ottery multi-purpose centre, is suppose to start later this year and beneficiaries are eager to move into the new development.
Vanessa Oncke , who has been on the housing list for 12 years, said it was a dream come true to be receiving a house.
“I have never had a house I could call my own. My children and I have been living in a structure at Horizonview Court for eight years and before that we lived with my mother-in-law at a nearby court. Having an opportunity to live in a proper house is truly a blessing. We are very excited and I am looking forward to have my three sons live in a proper house because they are growing up in a wendy house, which is not a proper way to live,” said Ms Oncke.
Eldest son Wayde Matthews, 22, is excited to be moving out of their wendy house he has shared with his mother and two siblings.
“We’ve been lucky and we have a good landlord but there are many people out there who are not as fortunate as us, who have to pay a lot of money for rent, electricity and water,” said Mr Matthews.
Wendy Adams, who will be moving to the new housing development with her mother, was sceptical when she heard the housing development was going to be built on the Edward Avenue field.
“That field was the battleground for the gangsters in the area. My fear was that we would become victims caught between crossfire because on both sides of the field are opposing gangs. But we are going to take this opportunity with both hands because we have been on the waiting list for 15 years,” said Ms Adams.
Ms Ocncke said she was aware of the gang activity in the area. “When I first heard that the houses were going to be built on the field about two years ago I started praying that the gang violence in the area would stop. I asked the Lord to bring peace so that our houses can be built and so that we can move in as soon as possible and at the moment there are no shootings. Many people have been praying and we still pray for peace in Ottery,” said Ms Oncke.
“The only problem now is that the construction and planning of the building has been delayed. Every time the City gives us a new date. We just want the construction to start so we can move into the houses as soon as possible,” she said.
Brett Herron, the City’s Mayco member for transport and urban development, confirmed the project and said 104 housing units would be built. “The houses will mostly be double-storey, with some single-storeys being reserved for elderly or disabled beneficiaries,” he said.
Mr Herron said the City is in the final stages of appointing a contractor and said building at the site would start soon. “A landscaped park will also be built central to the development to ensure availability of quality open spaces. The development will be of a high standard and it will replace a vacant open space that is currently used for criminal activities,” said Mr Herron.