LETTER TO THE EDITOR

City of Cape Town increases Mitchells Plain family’s water allocation and clarifies process of notifying housing project beneficiaries

By Luthando Tyhalibongo 17 February 2021

Charles May (centre) and his daughters Roshana Fataar (left) and Lorna Claasen (right) asked the City of Cape Town to provide them with help to protect their family of 47 during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Christi Nortier)

On 28 January 2021, Maverick Citizen reported on a Mitchells Plain family’s plea for more water and information about their place on the City of Cape Town’s housing list. The article included the City’s response to questions about the family’s circumstances. The City has subsequently written the following letter:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for affording the City the opportunity to respond to the article, “Come and try to ‘save lives’ in this home of 47, pleads Mitchells Plain family”.

The city is pleased to confirm that Mr Charles May had recently applied to the city for indigent relief. This was granted and R88,303 of municipal debt was written off on 31 December 2020.

The city has agreed to increase the family’s daily water allocation. This should already be in effect. The family has been urged to ensure that they pay their municipal account monthly to prevent the resetting back to 350 litres of water per day.

The executive mayor Dan Plato last week visited the family to check on the situation and is pleased that the city has been able to assist.

It should be noted that the city will not “complete the process of ensuring all potential beneficiaries were placed on the housing register”, as mentioned in the article, when construction begins on its Beacon Valley housing project.

We had said in our response that Ms Fataar [Roshana Fataar, one of May’s six daughters] will be notified once the qualifying beneficiaries are identified for the proposed Beacon Valley project.

As we had said in our response, beneficiaries of all city housing projects are allocated in accordance with the city’s allocation policy and the Housing Needs Register to ensure that housing opportunities are provided to qualifying applicants in a fair, transparent and equal manner, and to prevent queue-jumping. Applicants are selected for housing opportunities based on the date that they registered on the City’s register.

The city is doing what it can to assist its residents. This includes ongoing awareness campaigns, education, spending more than R200-million in delivering water and other enhanced basic sanitation services to vulnerable residents where possible (made possible by the disaster declaration); delivering food parcels and care packs; supporting more than 200 soup kitchens to help feed vulnerable communities through the mayor’s office; providing some R3.3-billion in indigent support.

The city has also primarily paid for most Covid-19 interventions by reprioritising funds of planned programmes and other initiatives.

Luthando Tyhalibongo is the City of Cape Town spokesperson. 

  • Response from the journalist: Christi Nortier has confirmed with the family that Mr May did apply for and receive indigent relief from the City of Cape Town in December 2020. It also confirmed that the water allocation has been increased and that it was communicated to them that they would be contacted once qualifying beneficiaries have been identified by the City of Cape Town.

For the sake of clarity, the City of Cape Town responded to Nortier’s questions on the Beacon Valley housing project as follows:

When will the construction of houses begin? 

“The City is currently starting with services construction and it is going to take about 14 months to complete, if all goes according to plan, before the construction of houses can begin.” 

How will housing recipients be selected?

“Beneficiaries of all City housing projects are allocated in accordance with the City’s Allocation Policy and the Housing Needs Register to ensure that housing opportunities are provided to qualifying applicants in a fair, transparent and equal manner, and to prevent queue-jumping.”

Applicants will be selected for housing opportunities based on the date that they registered on the City’s Register. Each project has a cut-off date determined by the Project Steering Committee, to ensure that all people who have been registered on the Register the longest are assisted before more recently registered applicants are approached. The qualifying date range is adjusted, with the input of the Project Steering Committee, once all names in that date range are exhausted.

Each housing project would then invite applicants within the agreed date range from the following three categories to apply for the specific project:

  • Applicants who reside within the target area (the areas near or surrounding the planned housing development);
  • Applicants who have been on the housing database the longest, but who live outside of the target area, ie the greater City of Cape Town; and 
  • Applicants with special needs.

How will they be told they have been selected?

During this initial construction period, the City will be completing the beneficiary administration process so it will unfortunately take some time before individuals are contacted regarding the project.

 Each person will be contacted individually. All that is required at this stage of potential beneficiaries is that they make sure their contact details are correct on the Register. DM/MC

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  • Thanks for this update – reading the story of the May family last month had really stirred me and it is good to see that something has come out of it.
    I am struck by the cloud of uncertainty that hangs above the housing prospects, here and elsewhere… Whether it’s Roshana Fataar and her family, the occupants of the Cissie Gool House or informal dwellers on PRASA tracks… Or so many others… I am worried about the disconnect between the hopes raised by social housing projects, and the actual capacity of those housing projects… Given the apparent opacity of the “beneficiary administration” process, I wonder what mechanism the CoCT has to manage expectations… Broken hopes can be so painful…

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