During my State of the Province Address on 15 February 2022, I set out my government’s plans to invest in catalytic infrastructure, as we look to push back against going back to normal and push forward towards doing even better.
I argued in my speech that the second pandemic of joblessness needs to be tackled with the same energy and determination as we had in our fight against Covid-19.
If we are to do so, we must use the moment that presents itself now to make bold decisions that will move the Western Cape forward.
While I specifically announced new departments that will focus on infrastructure and mobility, respectively, as well as a new Violence Prevention Unit, I also set out how social infrastructure is particularly needed for redress, so that we tackle the painful legacy of our past and deliver on our “north star” priority of dignity.
That is why I spent some time talking about important social housing infrastructure that is being prioritised by our government.
The first project I discussed is the pioneering Conradie Park development, which I visited about two weeks ago. This R3-billion project on the 22-hectare former Conradie Hospital site in Pinelands was a pilot for the Better Living Model, which was designed to create 3,500 residentially led, mixed-use, mixed-income housing opportunities close to the Cape Town CBD where people can live, work, play and learn.
Construction of the first phase of the social housing part of the project started in August 2020 and will, when completed, consist of 432 units located in four blocks.
Another catalytic infrastructure project already being developed is the Belhar CBD development. This partnership development with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) will consist of various types of residential units, which include Social Housing and Flisp (Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme) units. Nearly 1,200 units have already been developed, of which 765 affordable housing units have been delivered and transferred during the past two years.
A further 308 affordable housing units will be completed and transferred by March 2022. And construction of the 2,720-bed student accommodation, which is being implemented in partnership with UWC, is nearing completion during the 2022/23 financial year.
We will soon be adding another social housing development to this mix through the Founders Garden Artscape Precinct development, which is smack-middle in the Cape Town CBD. While still in the planning phase, it is projected that this project could create well more than 500 social housing units depending on its density.
To get this project off the ground, we have so far determined the project feasibility on a financial, legal and technical level, which are critical first steps. We have also designed the development procurement documentation that includes a Request for Proposal (RFP) and a draft Sale and Development Agreement. It is our plan to get this RFP out as soon as possible.
These three projects are in addition to several others. For example, the Bothasig Gardens Social Housing Project is complete and tenant agreements are being finalised. Construction has also begun on the Maitland Mews social housing project, which will create more than 200 new rental units.
I am also pleased to note that the first non-metro social housing project has been approved in the Drakenstein Municipality, intending to provide 362 new social rental units.
Construction will also begin soon on the first deferred ownership project in the Western Cape, in the Cape Agulhas Municipality. This will provide Flisp units to qualifying beneficiaries and enable residents who have not been successful in accessing finance to take out an option to buy the house in the future.
Last, we have now received public comment on the Western Cape’s new Inclusionary Housing Framework, which will soon come before the provincial cabinet for consideration. This framework, which leverages our development planning powers, will see many other mixed-use developments in the future.
While we prioritise these projects, we know that we need to provide immediate support to those who are vulnerable, especially homeless residents who have been particularly affected during the pandemic.
That is why we plan to fund a new homeless shelter in the Cape Town CBD, at the former Robbie Nurock Clinic, which will provide support to 120 adults. This is in addition to increasing the number of homeless shelter beds to 2,500 by March 2022.
We will also provide funding for the operation of a new safe space in Drakenstein in partnership with the municipality. And we have ensured that all funded shelters provide psychosocial support and reunification services.
As we tackle these challenges, we must also be honest that we cannot solve them on our own. We truly need an all-of-society approach and we are fully committed to working with partners in civil society, the private sector, and indeed national and local government, to find lasting solutions.
We will nevertheless play our part, wherever we can, with the resources that we have at our disposal, so that every person in our province can have the wellbeing and dignity they deserve. DM