Enlightened at housing info session

The community of Mitchells Plain gathered at Eastridge Community Centre on Saturday April 14 to attend the open day for housing settlements and explanation of the various housing and subsidy terms.

There was a long queue to get into the Eastridge community centre on Saturday April 14 when Ward 79 councillor Solomon Philander, together with the provincial Department of Human Settlements, held an information session about housing subsidies.

The response from the community was overwhelming as more than 300 people attended the session, showing the desperate need for housing in Mitchell’s Plain.

The aim of the session was to answer questions around the different subsidies available.

Although people applied on the housing database for a Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) or a rental house, the workshop informed the community about other ways to access housing opportunities with the available subsidies.

This includes:

An individual housing subsidy for R168 000. This subsidy can be used to buy a house, buy a house on a plot-and-plan basis or finish an incomplete house. Those applying for the subsidy must be on the housing database for more than 10 years and must not have a combined income of more than R35 000.

A Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP), which can be used by first-time homeowners to purchase a property. The subsidy is based on your income bracket of R3 501 to R15 000 and the subsidy ranges from R20 000 to R87 000.

An enhanced People’s Housing Process, available for a group of people in the community who are members registered on the housing demand database, willing to partner and approach the department for the subsidy through a housing project. This is first-time homeowners with a monthly household income of less than R3 500.

A Social Housing Subsidy, which allows applicants to access rental houses or apartments. The funding is provided to the social housing institutions to manage the rental units. You must be on the housing database with a household income of R1 501 to R7 500 to qualify for this subsidy. Potential applicants must approach by the local municipality to find out where the social housing projects are, to qualify.

Department of Human Settlements Head of Department, Thando Mguli, chaired the gathering on Saturday.

The maximum amount you will receive as a subsidy on a house is R170 000. If you are disabled or have a family member with a disability who wishes to own a house they need to be on the waiting list for more than three years to receive a house. “These houses are more expensive than a normal house,” said Mr Mguli.

Qualifying military veterans before 1994 or soldiers before the apartheid era have houses allocated to them, said Mr Mguli. Those earning less than R7 500 and who meet requirements can apply for a house. It will still depend on the availability of land.

“If you qualify, you can apply. The province belongs to you in its totality,” said Mr Mguli.

People cannot apply if they have not registered on the system for a house. People need to take their identification documents with them to the housing offices and apply so that their names can be logged onto the system.

One cannot apply for anything if you are younger than 18 and if you have owned property before, said Bridget Bantham, the director for Enhance People Housing Project. Parents who are single with dependants can apply while people with a disability have a criteria within itself that must be adhered to. There are different types of subsidies for those who owned houses before 1994. If one earns less than R3 000, the person must be on the waiting list for more than 10 years. If disabled, the person must be on the waiting list for more than three years.

People of Mitchell’s Plain raised their concerns about the housing system and the subsidy process. The community asked whether the houses that are burnt and broken down, will be built again. They also raised their concern about people applying for houses in Mitchell’s Plain who are not from the area.

“People who are not from Mitchell’s Plain will not get preference as opposed to those who live in Mitchell’s Plain who apply for houses here,” said Mr Mguli.

Those present also asked what is being done to check contractors, what will happen to the free-standing houses in the community and how does the process work for those living in a wendy house.

“Living in a wendy house falls under the category of backyard. If you are living with a person, while you are living in a wendy house on their property, you cannot claim the house as yours if anything should happen to the homeowner. You will be eligible to own the house if the person puts you in their will and makes you the homeowner,” said Mr Mguli.

Contractors are being monitored in every way, said Mr Mguli. They will be checked for registration, for work-ethic, tested to see if they are qualified for the job and many other categories that the City follows, he said.

The houses that are burnt and run down will be fixed and rebuilt for those who have applied, and qualify for housing. “You cannot take what doesn’t belong to you,” said Mr Mguli.

“This engagement was necessary as our community members who are in desperate need for housing are exploited with the hope to gain access to housing by opportunists who ask the community for money.

“People fork out R5 000 for assistance to apply for subsidies or promise of a home. I would like to appeal to the community not to fall again for these scams. Make use of the housing office at 27 Wale Street, Cape Town City Centre for information on subsidies,” said Mr Philander.

The next housing meeting will cover the housing progress in Mitchell’s Plain where more than 1 800 houses could be built, said Philander. “As the ward councillor, I will have the correct information available at my ward office in Town Centre, Taxi Rank Block A, first floor. My office number is 021 4445814 please feel free to visit my ward office for information. Contact the Western Cape housing desk at 021 483 6488/0611/ 8984/ 0623/2060,” said Philander.