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Wednesday Feb 19, 2014

70 years to eradicate Cape Town housing backlog

The City of Cape Town urgently needs to build five times more houses than the current 6 100 a year in order to deal with the backlog crisis by 2031, prompting a 'serious rethink' of housing delivery and strategy.

Revealing the extent of the housing problem, a city report noted that the municipality was not able to keep up with the growing demand for housing. It would take 70 years to eradicate the backlog if the city continued to deliver houses at the current rate.

A delivery rate of 31 000 houses annually was, however, not possible because of the lack of resources such as land, services, human resources, material and funding.

The city and provincial authorities have drawn up a new draft plan aimed at speeding up delivery.

The draft plan was developed by city and provincial authorities after they interrogated current systems and looked at new ways of meeting the demand.

The 2011 census revealed that the city had grown by 30 percent, with a population now at 3.7 million.

With continued growth, the population is expected to reach 4.2 million by 2031.

The city's current housing backlog stands at 375 000 and is expected to grow to 833 000 by 2031.

Based on its current resources, the city says it is only able to build 6 100 houses annually. 'Unless the city seriously rethinks its human settlements delivery methodology and strategy plan, the challenge of homelessness, mushrooming of informal settlements and backyarders, and social instability will perpetuate,' a city report said.

While the city's housing backlog stands at 375 000, the provincial housing backlog is 521 305, which includes the city and other municipalities.

The draft new plan for housing delivery will inform the finalisation of a new housing delivery plan for the city.

Mayco member for human settlements Tandeka Gqada said: 'This draft framework is a step toward addressing this backlog. The draft framework chose a rationalised, balanced approach, striking a balance between the quality and quantity of housing delivery.'
She said the city had the highest rate of urbanisation in the country.

The draft plan was a tool the city could use to deliver more opportunities than in the past while considering the budgetary and operational realities of the city.

'A fundamental shift in the housing delivery approach is needed, especially to address the ever-increasing and stubborn housing backlog for people dependant on governmentassisted housing opportunities,' Gqada said.

She said, however, that providing houses would not solve the urbanisation problem on its own, and that economic growth was needed to allow people to help themselves and not be dependent on the government for housing.

The city is hoping finalise the plan by June.

The report proposes that the city looks at the 'balanced approach', striking a balance between quality and quantity.

It looks at a range of housing programmes from upgrading informal settlements and subsidy housing, to rental housing.

Officials outlined the way forward, saying four to five housing projects should be selected and be given special attention. These projects should be located in areas with higher economic potential.

In terms of acquiring land, the recommendation is that the city proactively acquire land, that land acquisition be done in smaller parcels in crisis areas, and that acquisition of state and parastatal land be accelerated.

Cape Times


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