Social-housing project launched in Bothasig

It is expected to cost R175 million to complete the third phase of Bothasig Gardens.

Non-profit company Communicare launched the new third phase of its Bothasig Gardens social-housing complex last week.

The launch was done by webinar on Wednesday July 28 in Bothasig. According to Communicare CEO Anthea Houston, the third phase is being completed in stages, and 42 flats have been handed over to new tenants in the first stage.

Communicare is aiming to have all 314 flats occupied by November.

The development has drawn flak from the Bothasig Ratepayers’ Association, among others, which has said it could drive up crime, add to traffic congestion and cause overcrowding at local schools (“Bothasig bristles at housing project,” Tabletalk, March 24).

In June, police arrested 25 people following an attempted land invasion at the complex. (“Invasions are organised, says Communicare,” Tabletalk, June 9).

That attempt followed the invasion of the Goedehoop Rental Complex in Brooklyn, in March, when the invaders occupied 24 flats (“Court orders Communicare ‘hijackers’ to go,” Tabletalk, June 2).

There was also an attempted land invasion at a Communicare property in Ruyterwacht, in May. At the time, Communicare spokeswoman Makhosi Kubheka said it looked like an organised syndicate was getting people to hijack their buildings.

After the Western Cape High Court ruled, on Monday May 24, that the Brooklyn complex’s occupiers should leave immediately, their attorney, Bonakele Dlova, said they would appeal on the grounds that the judge had failed to explain why the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE Act) did not apply. He claimed his clients’ constitutional rights were being denied.

Mr Dlova told Tabletalk this week that he had withdrawn from the matter. “As far as I know, the matter has been taken on appeal to the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal),” he said.

More tenants will move into the complex as each stage of construction is completed.

Phases one and two of Bothasig Gardens were completed in 1994 and 2013, respectively. Phase one has 165 units and phase two has 120.

Phase three will have 94 studio flats, 63 one-bedroom flats and 157 two-bedroom flats in four-, three- and two-storey blocks.

Applicants should be earning below R15 000 but above R1 500, be permanently employed and have clear credit records.

According to Balisa Ntloko, of Communicare, the 314 low-income families will get the opportunity to live in an area that was previously inaccessible to them and bring people closer to the city’s economic hub.

“We are bringing them closer to employment opportunities, at affordable rates while making housing more inclusive. Providing people access into areas where they can easily participate in the economy and uplift their lives. These areas in turn benefit from the additional workforce, employees who do not need to travel impossible distances to work using unreliable public transport,” she said.

From left are Communicare CEO Anthea Houston, new tenant Jacqui Smith, and Thabo Mashologu and Kholeka Zama of Communicare.

Ms Houston said the development of all 314 flats will eventually cost R175 million.

“Over R70 million was spent from Communicare’s own funding for the development, and the government added an additional R90 million in grant funding. That funding is just for the construction of the development and not for the day-to-day operations after the tenants move in.

“In exchange for the government’s investment in our development, we are targeting families with very low income. We are trying to give the opportunity of decent housing to these families,” she said.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said he was pleased with the project’s proximity to Century City and the city centre.

“The project is easily accessible to a number of amenities, including job opportunities, education institutions, health-care facilities and public transport. We must build and expand on partnerships to tackle the demand for more affordable housing in Cape Town and other parts of the country,” he said.

Mr Booi said residents could report unlawful occupations by calling 112 from a cellphone, 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies.

Facts about social housing:

• The development is managed by an accredited social-housing institution (SHI).

• SHIs are solely dependent on rental income. They receive no operational grants. They are able to service their debt finance through rental income.

• As with any rental contract, tenants formally enter into lease agreements. The landlord is the SHI.

• If tenants do not adhere to their lease agreements, the responsible SHI will follow the necessary legal process. Tenants must therefore pay to stay as the rental money is used for the day-to-day operation and upkeep of the complex.

• The City has nothing to do with the day-to-day management of SHIs, the rental amount or evictions for not paying.

• Before potential beneficiaries can apply for social housing, they are required to register on the City’s housing-needs register.

• Projects are developed on well-located, accessible land in and near urban centres.

• It is not low-income subsidised government housing, such as Breaking New Ground (or the commonly called RDP housing) and it is not city council rental units.

• It is managed with 24-hour security and access control.

• The City may sell City-owned land at a discounted price for social-housing developments to make projects economically viable.