After half an hour of pushing to get in free to an affordable housing conference on Tuesday, Reclaim the City activists were happy to hear that 10 inner-city sites would be developed for the poor.
“This is a victory for people who are being priced out of well-located areas or facing eviction. It shows the power that residents have when they organise together to resist injustice and demand change,” Reclaim the City said.
The 10 city-owned sites marked for affordable housing are in Salt River, Woodstock, and in the city centre, Councillor Brett Herron said in his address to the Fourth Annual Affordable Housing Conference. He is the city’s mayoral committee member for urban development and transport.
Three of the sites have already been allocated to social housing institutions and the statutory land-use applications are underway. Two erven along Pine Road in Woodstock, close to the city centre, will be developed first, followed by another six along Dillon Lane, also in Woodstock.
The proposed developments would be a two- to four-storey mixture of studio flats and one- and two-bedroom units meant to provide about 240 state-subsidised housing units for people already on the housing waiting list. Beneficiaries have to earn less than R15 000 a month and be able to pay rent.
Another 476 subsidised rental units are planned for the Salt River Market in Albert Road, also close to the CBD. These will vary from subsidised social housing for those earning less than R15 000 a month, to rentals for households with a monthly income of between R3500 to R20 000. Retail and office space will form part of this development to cross-subsidise the housing.
There are currently 350 000 people on the housing waiting list. This is expected to rise to 650 000 families by 2032, Herron said.
The council’s intention is to develop the city’s first inner-city transitional housing site in Salt River, under 5km from the city’s CBD. Herron hoped this would be approved at the next council meeting on July 29.
A number of Constitutional Court precedents have established that councils are responsible for helping poor evictees find alternative accommodation. Although the activists welcomed Herron’s announcement, they wanted to know when they would see the promised housing.
“What I was talking about today is not going to happen overnight, unfortunately,” he said. The city is considering changing planning laws to allow more than one dwelling to be built on one stand, he said.