Pelican Park residents upset about homes

Concerned residents Berenice Halifax, Amanda Arries, Roshieda Williams, Anne Hermanus, Lorraine Heunis, Daphny Libbe and Selena April.

A group of residents from Pelican Park have raised concerns about the state of their homes.

The group of women from New Horizons are beneficiaries of semi-subsidised houses in the area as part of the Pelican Park integrated housing development.

The housing development saw more than 2 000 families receive houses.

Phase 1 was completed in 2016 and the City of Cape Town has appointed consultants to start the planning for the construction of Phase 2.

An estimated 2 330 state-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG), GAP and market-related houses are planned for the phase.

The City hopes that the first housing opportunities will become available within the next three to five years, if all goes as planned.

The group of residents have, however, questioned the City’s commitment to repairs and maintenance and the previous building contractors workmanship as well as use of materials.

They claim the houses are of inferior quality.

Berenice Halifax who moved into her home in 2015, claims the houses have been built with cheap material. “There are so many things that have gone wrong in our homes. Some of our electricity systems have given us problems and is a fire hazard. Our door and window handles fall off. Our roof tiles have blown off and there are cracks in our floors and our walls as well as mould,” said Ms Halifax.

Ms Halifax was worried about the safety of her family in the current conditions of the houses. She said several of the residents have complained to the City of Cape Town about their problems but claims the City have very rarely taken their concerns seriously.

“We have complained about these issues but many times we were told that we should have complained when we first moved in. The problem is that most of us only realised the issues we had with the houses after living there for an extended period. Now apparently we have to fix it ourselves. Many people cannot afford to fix it themselves. It is the City’s responsibility to fix the problems that came because of poor workmanship and cheap materials that were used,” she said.

Roshieda Williams, who shares her home with her six children, said residents were told that they received the houses for free and should not complain about the state of the homes.

“It is semi-subsidised and we pay taxes so we are in some way paying for these houses. We can’t afford to redo our electricity systems and fix up the houses. If it was done properly in the first place we would not have these issues. Why must we live in such a state when the politicians and officials would never live in these conditions,” she said.

Lorraine Heunis said they decided to start a group as concerned residents to make their voices heard. “We just decided as a collective that we would speak out about our issues because it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. How can they build Phase 2 when there are still so many complaints about Phase 1? They should fix our problems first before moving on or are they planning to build low standard houses for Phase 2 too,” said Ms Heunis.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, reminded beneficiaries that when they received their BNG houses, they became property owners and they are therefore responsible for managing and maintaining their homes.

He admitted that the City had received complaints.

“I have visited some of the houses with the ward councillor and received positive feedback from several of the residents. During that visit, we also received some minor complaints but these amounted to repairs and maintenance matters and not structural defects. I am not aware of any reported structural defects,” said Mr Herron.

He said defects reported during the warranty period were attended to by the contractor. “After that period the homeowner became responsible for any repairs needed as is the case with any other homeowner. In fact, we are prohibited by law from spending any City funds on private property,” he said.

Responding to residents’ claims that the houses were built with cheap material and are of inferior quality, Mr Herron said all new houses are signed off by several quality controllers, including the City’s inspectors, provincial inspectors and the National Home Builders’ Registration Council (NHBRC).

“These quality checks ensure that the units are built to the required standards and specification. Furthermore when beneficiaries receive their houses and they move in, they are given approximately three months in which to report snags, which will be investigated and attended to by the contractor,” he said.

After these checks and the period for reporting and correcting snags expires, the beneficiaries as property owners are responsible for managing and maintaining their homes.