Housing project brings new hope for beneficiary

Bertha Abrahams, 51, from Montrose Park, has been waiting almost 21 years for a house.

A Montrose Park grandmother, who has been on the City of Cape Town’s housing database for 21 years, and who is living with her family in a backyard, is praying that she will benefit from the latest housing project in Mitchell’s Plain.

There are 1 809 potential beneficiaries of the City’s Beacon Valley housing project that will span three sites, bordering Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.

Bertha Abrahams told the Plainsman on Friday July 17 that she had been sent from pillar to post trying to get a home for her family, who have been moving from yard to yard in the past 20 years.

She lives in a two-bedroom wendy house, with a bucket toilet and kitchen in a backyard, with her five children, including her disabled son and six grandchildren – metres away from one of the sites in Montrose Park.

While her eldest son, 37, does not live with them, her youngest son, 15, has severe allergies and neurofibromatosis, a disease affecting the development and growth of nerve cell tissues.

It causes tumours to grow on nerves and can affect many systems in the body, including the skin, skeleton, and brain.

Ms Abrahams said with the national Covid-19 lockdown regulations it had been difficult to keep him in school, get his medication and keep healthy.

Every other day she pops in at the site. Ms Abrahams said: “I’ve been to hell and back. I’m going to get a house here. I want a house here.”

She has moved several times, one of her children is addicted to drugs, another recovering, and her family have been torn apart while waiting for a home.

Ms Abrahams is unemployed since the end of June; before she was a member of the walking bus project, a safety initiative to get schoolchildren to and from school safely. Their contracts had ended.

Before Montrose Park she lived in Eastridge, often returning home late at night after attending housing meetings in all weather.

“I pop in now and then. I want to see where my house is going to be built,” said Ms Abrahams.

Malusi Boo, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the planning and design phases on the project were complete.

“The contractors have been appointed and have started the internal civil services construction,” he said.

He said at this stage all potential beneficiaries could do for now was make sure their contact details were correct on the housing database.

“The City’s human settlements directorate is making every effort to ensure this project remains on track,” he said.

The breaking new ground (BNG) project is for full ownership of a 40 square metre house (“Spotlight on housing”, Plainsman, February 12) at a cost of R95 million.

Mr Booi noted that the City had not yet started with processing beneficiaries from the database.

He said potential beneficiaries should refrain from going to City offices at this stage to sign up and that every person who potentially qualifies would be contacted individually.

Community liaison officers (CLOs) were chosen from the Wolfgat Sub-council and Khayelitsha Sub-council databases.

Melissa Ford, CLO for the Montrose Park site, from Beacon Valley, started working on site about three weeks ago and has already distributed about 200 job-seeker forms.

Ms Ford says she takes instruction from Amandla Contractors and is a liaison between them, the City and the community.

In recent weeks she secured the employment of four men – two from Ward 79, which includes Beacon Valley and two from Ward 116, which includes Montrose Park – for general labour. Their names were registered on the sub-council database.

Solomon Philander, chairperson of Wolfgat Sub-council and councillor for Ward 79 (Beacon Valley, Eastridge, the Mitchell’s Plain central business district , including the Town Centre and parts of Portland), called on sub-contractors and residents to register their skills and expertise with both Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha sub-council offices (“Sub-contractors called to register”, Plainsman, July 15).

He said during monthly sub-council meetings they receive a report of employment opportunities offered to residents and it was disappointing to see that it took several phone calls to secure people.

Last month the report showed that there are only 28 273 people registered on the sub-council’s database and that only 8 103 come from Ward 79.

He pledged his support for community-based businesses but emphasised that they had to be registered on the sub-council database.

The community-based supplier registration form is available at Wolfgat Sub-council office, Lentegeur administrative building, corner of Melkbos Street and Merrydale Avenue or Sub-council 9 at Site B Khayelitsha Shopping Centre.

For more details, click here.