Scheme breaks mould

Forty-nine low cost houses were built on a privately-owned property, on the corner of Cedars Drive and Weltevreden Parkway, in Colorado Park.

A Colorado Park people’s housing project is at the forefront of saving water. A unique grey water reticulation system, has been connected to 49 households in the Rou Emoh (Our Home) development in Colorado Park.

The water is drawn from a well and is piped to the houses to flush toilets; and an outside tap, which can be used to wash cars and water residents’ gardens.

The indigenous trees planted by Greenpop, a non-profit organisation, in the development have also been hooked up to the system. A 2 500-litre tank, which will collect the water, has been installed.

The installation of the grey and groundwater system was a collaboration between the People’s Environmental Planning (PEP) and Habitat for Humanity South Africa, and is among the first of its kind in the Western Cape.

Noah Schermbrucker, project co-ordinator for the non-profit organisation PEP, which is creating economically, socially and environmentally sustainable housing, said: “It is innovative and new in light of the drought.”

Each of the houses has been fitted with gutters and various water-saving fixtures.

He said each of the homeowners also have their own system of reusing and saving water.

Mr Schermbrucker said it is great working on a project where the homeowners were involved from start to finish, including the design and having an oversight role.

Lyndall McCarthy, in charge of digital communications and design for Habitat for Humanity SA, said the project was significant because multiple organisations had come together to be part of the solution.

“Together with the community we managed to understand the challenges and issues they had,” she said.

Adnaan Hendricks, chairman of Rou Emoh’s steering committee, said they were grateful to all the organisations that helped from the start – 22-years ago – for them to build their own houses.

“I want to thank Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), the umbrella body of the uTshani Fund; Community Organisation Resource Centre (CORC); Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI); PEP and Douglas Norman, from the City of Cape Town,” he said.

In 1995 members of the SA Homeless People’s Federation started saving R1 a day to contribute to a savings plan which would help with the building of a house (“Land battle heats up,” Plainsman, June 22 2011).

Rou Emoh (Our Home spelt backwards) members had a stake in purchasing the ground, developing it, designing and building their houses from scratch on the corner of Cedars Drive and Weltevreden Parkway in Colorado Park.

On Friday December 22 last year the 49 families moved in after years of living in other people’s backyards, separate entrances and shacks.

Mr Hendricks said residents are “extremely happy”.

“Not only are we homeowners but we have been able to save water and on our bills,” he said.

“It is a very smart system. There is a JoJo tank in the middle of the development, to which the water is pumped from the borehole and linked up to each of the houses,” he said.

He said during construction the contractors found that there was water underground and they partnered with an organisation to install the system.

Mr Hendricks said the houses were built in less than three months and that they cannot complain about the quality and workmanship of the houses.

“There is still work to be done. We need to beautify our place. We need a park in the open space, which is partially commercially owned with City Parks and Forests. We are also working towards a solar geyser system,” he said.

The project is also due to have wi-fi.

Mr Hendricks said they have two water management devices (WMD) installed on the property and that with it being connected online, residents can check, when at home, on water usage and leaks.

Resident Fazlin Samsodien 42, who lives in a house with her four children, aged between 1 year and 16, said she joined after people had dropped out of the project.

“I use to live in a separate entrance at my in-laws,” she said.

Ms Samsodien said all the sacrifices over the years were worth it.

She was a member of one of five saving groups, in the project, which held fund-raisers and saved to own their homes.

Members of the organisation and residents of Colorado Park had been at loggerheads for more than two decades because the latter did not want low-cost housing in their backyards.

The residents had managed to stall rezoning applications and development since its inception but all attempts failed.

Washiela Harris, neighbour to the development, who protested against the rezoning of the land in 2011, told the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday February 20: “The residents are still busy settling in but everything looks positive. There are 49 dwellings and it blends in nicely.”

Joan Woodman, ward councillor for Ward 75, said residents are
working well with the City of Cape Town.