Policy Debate on Budget Vote 31: Human Settlements
The Honourable Chairperson,
The Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister,
The Honourable Chairperson of the Standing Committee,
The Honourable MECs,
Ladies and gentlemen.
The delivery of integrated human settlements is a multi-pronged approach, requiring the balancing of social, economic and geographic factors. As Minister Sexwale pointed out in his recent 2012 budget speech, there is a large demand for human settlements to address the inequalities of the past and limited resources to address this demand. In the Western Cape, around 500 000 households are waiting for housing opportunities, and after grant restructuring, we can currently deliver around 15 000 top structures per year with our available budget. Compounded to this issue is the rising cost of construction, making it increasingly difficult for companies to meet the requirements of tender specifications. Nationally, the rate of housing delivery has decreased due to limited resources and increasing costs.
In response, we have shifted our emphasis from providing houses for a few, to ensuring that as many people as possible wait for housing opportunities with access to the basic services of water, sanitation and refuse removal. The Western Cape Government's concept of Better Together is simply this: providing people with the enabling opportunities of basic services, or a site with basic service infrastructure, in order to create an incremental housing approach over time towards the goal of a permanent structure. In this way, more people will wait for top structures with the dignity of having basic services, rather than a relative few having a service site and a house, and everyone else nothing.
As government, we have a responsibility to use the limited resources we have in a fair and efficient manner so that we may maximise their effectiveness and deliver the best possible services. With this end in mind, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements has, since 2009, developed and implemented nation-leading programmes to ensure more effective and integrated service delivery.
The Housing Demand Data Improvement Programme is an integrated database system, implemented among the 29 municipalities of the Western Cape, which coordinates and ensures the integrity of data of people waiting for houses. This ensures fair and transparent allocation of housing opportunities, reduces corruption and also reduces social conflict.
The Professional Resource teams are dedicated groups of housing professionals, contracted by the department to assist municipalities and the department in the planning and delivery of human settlements projects. These teams address the lack of capacity constraints that so often derail projects over their five-year life cycles.
The Project Management Unit is an information technology system that allows for tracking and monitoring of the hundreds of projects for which the department has oversight, and over the entire life cycle. Any blockages are quickly flagged and can be resolved, ensuring the quickest delivery possible.
A study undertaken by the department in March 2011 indicated that since 1994, 86 394 of the approximately 250 000 housing subsidy beneficiaries in the Western Cape have not received transfer of the properties allocated to them in 832 housing projects. The department has since appointed a service provider to address this issue and ensure that people have their title deeds, and can live with the dignity and economic benefits of security of tenure.
President Zuma, in his 2012 State of the Nation Address, stated that a R1 billion guarantee fund will be available for people in the Gap Market, or earning in the monthly income band of R3 500 to R15 000, to obtain credit to buy houses. The President stated that this fund will become operational from 1 April 2012, and two of our projects, namely Our Pride and Nuwe Begin, already have units available for the market. The City of Cape Town will also deliver in Scottsdene and Pelikan Park. We have arranged an upcoming workshop in May 2012 on affordable housing, which will include invites to all of the relevant stakeholders, to clarify the way forward in more effectively servicing the Gap Market. The province, together with the National Housing Finance Corporation and major banks, will be rolling out the Finance-Linked Subsidy Programme, or FLISP, to assist households who earn too much to qualify for government "free housing".
We view this rolling out of this program as an urgent priority. There are about 2 million public servants, including teachers and policemen, who are currently unable to buy houses, and this market needs to be unlocked. This will also reduce the unlawful buying and selling of subsidised houses at reduced rates, help create communities that pay for their services and will create a formalised secondary property market that allows for upward mobility of the traditional beneficiaries of fully subsidised housing.
To end, I am proud of what we have achieved in this province. In close co-operation with the National Department of Human Settlements and the City of Cape Town, the R400 million high-density Joe Slovo Housing Development is nearing completion, will deliver 2 639 units, and will be formally handed over next month.
The Boystown Project in Crossroads will deliver over 1 500 units and the first units will be handed over on 24 May 2012. We have had to negotiate complex social issues, attempts to derail the project, community violence, employment issues and many stoppages to reach this point, where the people who most need them are finally ready to receive their houses.
The R219 million Nuwe Begin Project will deliver 1 200 Breaking New Ground houses and 591 Gap Market houses, and the ceremonial handover will be on 28 May. Nuwe Begin is a perfect example of integrated human settlements, as it includes social amenities such as parks, libraries and transport.
We recently marked the handover of the 1 588-unit Drommedaris Project in Paarl, costing R113 million.
With these successes under our belts, the implementation of programmes to continually improve delivery and the focus on access to basic services for all by March 2014, I am confident that we will continue to serve the people of the Western Cape with excellence.
Spokesman for Minister Madikizela
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