Steenvilla fight continues

Residents pack up their belongings after they were evicted.

Another group of residents have been evicted from their homes at the Steenvilla complex in Steenberg and more are expected to follow.

Those who were evicted said their circumstances have made it difficult to pay rent and arrears and claim the scheme is not as affordable as it used to be.

The affordable housing project is managed by Sohco.

Upset residents looked on as the possessions of six households were carried away by law enforcement officers on Tuesday August 20.

In January, 34 families were moved to houses in Eerste River (“Evicted residents given houses”, Southern Mail, January 30) after an assessment on their affordability was made that confirmed they could not pay what was expected.

Those who were evicted last week said they couldn’t afford it either.

A mother and daughter, who did not want to be named, said their monthly income barely covers the necessities.

The young woman earns a stipend and her mother, a domestic worker, is unemployed.

“When we moved in nine years ago we could afford it. My mother was working and her employer paid the rent so it was a bit easier. I’ve got a child now too and after we pay the rent there is R50 left and the rent keeps going up every year.”

Disabled pensioner Mary Brink also received a notification for eviction.

“My husband and I get grants, we can’t afford the rent anymore so they want to throw us out even after trying to make arrangements but Sohco refuses to listen,” she said.

Sohco chief executive officer, Heather Maxwell said the six evictions were court issued and confirmed more evictions will take place.

“We encourage tenants in arrears to make contact to discuss this urgently, either with Sohco or our legal representatives. We made many attempts over an extended period to find an alternative remedy with tenants in arrears, before applying to court for an eviction order, which we consider a last resort.”

Asked if screening processes are followed before residents move in and if prospective tenants are informed about clauses in the contract before signing, she said extensive affordability screenings are done as part of the application process and there’s training before new tenants move in as well as an initial information session.

There is a workshop which covers all the content of the lease agreement and an opportunity to view the unit and ask any additional questions.

“They are then asked to complete a questionnaire after the training sessions to check that key aspects of the lease agreement have been understood.”

Marcellino Martin, spokesperson for human settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers, said the City of Cape Town would only be approached to provide alternative temporary accommodation if there was a court order and those evicted were able to prove their dire circumstances.