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Solving the backlog: City of Cape Town residents could get subsidies to build rental accommodation

Solving the backlog: City of Cape Town residents could get subsidies to build rental accommodation
A report based on small-scale rental units on properties in Khayelitsha is being considered to address the housing backlog in Cape Town. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee supported a report on Tuesday that hopes to address the housing backlog in the city. The report, which is based on an in-depth analysis of small-scale rental units in Khayelitsha, could be instrumental in delivering housing opportunities faster.

The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee has supported a report that recommends the City put in place incentives for private property owners to provide affordable small-scale rental units.

The report was based on small-scale rental units on properties in Mandela Park, Graceland, Khaya, Eyethu and Ilitha Park, which are all in Khayelitsha. The report found that 7,425 additional housing opportunities have been provided on 5,294 properties, out of a total of 9,007 properties. Of the 7,425 opportunities, nearly 40% are formal additional housing structures.

Small-scale rental units are different from backyard units as they are formally constructed. The City will require that these small-scale rental units comply with national building regulations.

There are almost 600,000 people on the provincial housing waiting list – 65% of whom live in Cape Town, Tertius Simmers, the provincial MEC for Human Settlements, said in a  Cape Talk interview in July 2020,

At Tuesday’s meeting, Marian Nieuwoudt, the mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, described the report as a “game-changer” in the City’s plans to address spatial inequalities.

According to the report: “If this form of housing delivery is encouraged across the City, it can make a significant contribution to address the housing backlog at little cost to the City.”

“The question now begs: What role can the City play to encourage this trend? We know there is a huge demand for affordable rental accommodation and we see that many property owners in Khayelitsha are pursuing this as an income generator.

“There is also an opportunity here for the City to empower small-scale entrepreneurs across the city to use their properties to generate an income,” said Nieuwoudt in a statement.

According to Urban LandMark, which does research on tenure security,  small-scale rentals are “different types of housing units built by a private landowner for rental to one or a few households”.

Urban LandMark found that 35% of South Africans who rent property live in small-scale rental units. “Contrary to popular belief, 53% of all small-scale rental units are formally constructed houses, flats or rooms, while 47% are shacks in backyards.”

One of the recommendations made by the report was that: “The Executive Director Spatial Planning and Environment be authorised to draft a menu of prototypical building plans for small scale rental units, from which an owner could choose and submit with a site plan for approval to the City in terms of the National Building Regulations.”

The report also recommends that: “The Chief Financial Officer be authorised to petition Central Government to consider making housing subsidies available to individual property owners who develop small-scale rental units on their properties, on the same basis as the current social housing subsidies or a variation thereof.”

The report was supported by the mayoral committee and now has to be tabled, and considered for adoption. DM/BM

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