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City of Cape Town moves 19 families to a new transition...

South Africa

HOUSING CRISIS

City of Cape Town moves 19 families to a new transitional facility in Salt River

Two residents move their belongings into a transitional housing unit in Salt River. Residents of the Pine Road informal settlement moved to this facility on Monday, 20 May 2019. Photo: Jonah Dylan

Breaking with the past practice of moving people to transitional housing facilities as far as 30km from town, residents who have agreed to leave the Pine Road informal settlement in Woodstock, Cape Town, will move just one kilometre to the Pickwick transitional facility in Salt River. Depending on how much a household earns, the former Pine Road residents could eventually be moved to social housing or state-subsidised Breaking New Ground housing.

On Monday, 20 May, the City of Cape moved 19 families from the Pine Road informal settlement in Woodstock to a transitional facility in Salt River, saying it was “the first of its kind in the city and in the country”.

Inadequate housing is a critical issue in the country, including in Cape Town, with ongoing protests flaring up in other areas in the Western Cape such as Strand and Caledon.

This transitional facility is regarded as the first of its kind because it will allow people “to wait in decency”, Malusi Booi, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, told Daily Maverick.

Families are often moved to emergency housing after they have lost their homes to fires, or to low-income households while they wait for permanent housing.

People will be moving from this site (Pine Road) to the transitional facility where they will be waiting for their final destination,” said Booi.

The Pickwick transitional facility, in Pickwick Street, Salt River, is a kilometre from the Pine Road informal settlement.

An ANC election poster lies discarded in front of a shack at Pine Road informal settlement. Residents of the informal settlement were moved to a transitional facility in Salt River, the first of it’s kind close to Cape Town city centre, on Monday 20 May 2019. Photo: Jonah Dylan

Depending on how much a household earns, the former Pine Road informal settlement residents could either be moved to social housing or state-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) housing.

In 2018, when the Pickwick transitional facility was not complete, Reclaim the City and evicted residents from Woodstock, who were to be moved to Blikkiesdorp and Wolwerivier, protested outside the house of mayoral committee member for transport and urban development Brett Herron. Herron had said it was important for more emergency housing to be located closer to the city.

The important difference with the Pickwick transitional facility is that it isn’t built far from the inner city, unlike Blikkiesdorp and Wolwerivier transitional facilities, both 30km from Cape Town.

Maxine Bezuidenhout, an activist from Ndifuna Ukwazi, wrote in March 2018 that it was unacceptable that people were “being forcibly relocated to isolated relocation camps”.

The 19 families were moved from the land on Pine Road in Woodstock because it has been earmarked for social housing.

Abeeda Nelson has lived in the Pine Road informal settlement for 30 years, with two other people.

I’m excited to move to a better place,” she said on Monday.

Boxes filled with residents personal belongings are loaded onto a truck at the Pine Road informal settlement on Monday 20 May 2019. Residents of the informal settlement were moved to a transitional facility in Salt River, the first of it’s kind close to Cape Town city centre. Photo: Jonah Dylan

It’s a great step,” said Deena Bosch, a Woodstock Chapter leader from Reclaim the City. “We need more of these,” said Bosch.

Although she believed the transitional facility was a “step in the right direction”, she cautioned that the way transitional facilities were built needed to take into consideration the needs of the people who would be living there.

You can’t furnish it like a bachelor apartment; these are working-class families, there are lots of them,” said Bosch.

The Pickwick transitional facility has two floors with communal bathrooms on each floor, while the bedrooms can accommodate only one bed. The facility, which cost R11-million, has communal kitchens and access control for the tenants’ safety.

Janine Jaftus, who was allocated a room by herself while her two sons were allocated a room across from hers, is pleased.

I’m very happy. I like this place a lot,” she told Daily Maverick.

Booi said that people could remain in the Pickwick transitional facility for between two and three years.

William May, who lives on Pine Road, echoed what Ward 89 councillor Monde Nqulwana said about people’s reluctance to move from one place to another. May said he and the six people he lived with would not be moving.

We don’t want to be moved from here to another small place,” May said.

Even though transitional facilities are intended for short-term accommodation, families have been placed in some for years. Some families have been living in Blikkiesdorp for 13 years. DM

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