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Thursday Nov 29, 2012

'Huge difference between GAP and RDP housing'

Port Elizabeth's first-ever GAP housing development, Walmer Link, has the potential to unite people from disparate backgrounds who nevertheless have a common interest in home ownership.

So says Ian Olivier, principal of Ian Olivier Properties in Port Elizabeth, of the R200-million, partially government-subsidised Walmer Link housing estate in Walmer.

Built on previously municipality-owned land on the corner of Buffelsfontein Road and Victoria Drive, the 779 unit development is one of a number of GAP housing developments which have sprung up throughout South Africa following the launch of the government-backed Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) in February this year.

"What's important to realise is that GAP housing differs vastly from RDP housing," asserts Olivier. "RDP houses have a reputation for being cheaply and shoddily built, and regularly inhabited by undeserving, undesirable and even illegal occupants. GAP housing, on the other hand, is aesthetically pleasing, well constructed and set within secured, managed estates in the major metropolitan areas and in upmarket suburbs such as Umhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal and Pinelands in Cape Town."

Olivier also points out that GAP homes are available to people from all population groups, the criteria to entry being that they are permanently employed and earn between R1 500 and R7 500 a month (rental unit tenants), and between R3 501 and R15 000 a month for home buyers.

Managed along the lines of traditional complexes, Walmer Link has its own house rules which, properly enforced, he says, will ensure harmonious living among residents and their neighbours.

"When building on Walmer Link first started, I was asked by local home owners and prospective buyers about its effect on property values and if I thought it would be a problem with regard to crime. I must be honest that I didn't know there was a difference between GAP housing and RDP housing, until I did some research," says Olivier. "What I find particularly heartening about GAP housing is that, by its very nature, it promotes the country's long tradition of home ownership. The normal residential market is financially out of the reach of thousands of South Africans who don't earn enough to qualify for a mortgage bond but who earn too much to be eligible for a "free basic" (RDP) house. GAP housing has been designed to bridge this gap and foster responsible home ownership without impacting negatively on the surrounding areas."

"Although this is breaking ground for PE, the concept is working well in other areas and has the potential to be a success here, too, provided people apply and embrace the "live and let live" principle," he says.

According to Lance Del Monte, executive director of the Walmer Link development company Abahlali Housing Association (trading as The Home Market), beneficiaries qualifying for a GAP home will receive a once-off down payment. "This FLISP subsidy will reduce the amount of the loan they require and accordingly their monthly bond repayments," he says, adding that the grant is only available to applicants who meet all the entry requirements and who have qualified for home loans from the banks.

Other conditions of the FLISP subsidization include that the houses be newly built and that they cost no more than R300 000 inclusive of VAT.

On completion, Walmer Link will comprise 347 rental units and 432 purchasable homes, ranging in price from around R182 000 to R300 000. Rentals range from approximately R580 to R2 250 (excluding water, electricity and parking). Testimony to the success of the concept is that Del Monte has received more than 380 applications for the two and three bedroom, single and double storey semi-detached homes in the last two months alone.

On the back of the Walmer Link success, he says construction is due to begin on Port Elizabeth's second rental housing development in Fairview, early in 2013.

Ian Olivier Properties Press Release


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