SPEECH BY DACRE HADDON TO THE EASTERN CAPE LEGISLATURE ON THE 2011/12 HOUSING BUDGET

There is a serious shortage of alternative housing options in this province.

Speaker, this problem is highlighted in programme 4 of the report to this house – namely that of “Housing Asset Management.”

This programme facilitates, co-ordinates and manages the implementation of social housing and land acquisition programmes.

The underfunding of this programme for alternative housing choice needs immediate attention!

Speaker, there is a huge “gap” market of beneficiaries who do not qualify for RDP housing but do qualify for Social housing.

As a province we are doing these citizens a disservice by not providing sufficient rental options.

A paltry R7,240 million out of a departmental budget of R2,424 billion allocated for this year is way an insufficient amount.

Furthermore, this funding only represents 2, 98% of funding for the entire budget.

If this department wants to champion effective housing delivery for all in this province then this pittance amount for alternative housing needs serious revision.

Accessing adequate rental/social housing accommodation in urban areas and on the borders of industrial zones will allow beneficiaries to reside near their work.

This would be a catalyst in drawing work seekers to these areas and creating employment.

In addition Speaker, there will be a plethora of construction work opportunities, as more social and rental housing opportunities are developed in the province.

The department must be congratulated on planning 9,200 jobs for this year.

Honourable Speaker, if we analyse the report further, we will note that there has been a 14% decrease in funding for housing maintenance.

The department must empower and assist municipalities throughout the province to focus far more on developing this accommodation choice.

 

Speaker, we applaud the MEC and her department with the planned initiatives of Emerald Sky, John Street Uitenhage and Walmer rental developments.

However, these initiatives fall far short of what is required to make rental and social housing more accessible to communities.

Honourable Speaker, the development of both social and rental housing is plagued by some the following problems:

1) Lack of identifying suitable land for housing development.

 

2) Too many bureaucratic processes (when land is identified) that hinders human settlement development, for example the management of EIA’s (Environmental Impact Assessments)

 

3) Not paying enough attention to inner city urban renewal that would create more opportunities for rental housing.

 

4) The lack of a fully fledged Provincial Housing Tribunal to sort out disputes.

 

5) A lack of attention to housing maintenance.

 

Speaker, in a recent IQP question to the MEC for Housing I asked how many municipalities in the province had done land audits.

The reply received from the department was that only three municipality’s had done land audits in the entire province.

The three municipalities were the Nelson Mandela Metro, Buffalo City Metro and King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality.

Speaker, I wish to highlight an example of how rental tenants in the Metro are also being exploited by mismanagement of Programme 4 of your department.

As an example I shall focus on the plight of the tenants of the Impala and other flats in the Sidwell area of the Nelson Mandela Metro. These tenants who are part of the EEDBS (Enhanced Extended Discount Benefit Scheme) were given letters by the department in 2005 stating that they could buy their units.

To date this has not happened and now the department stated it has no knowledge of such letters being sent out to beneficiaries.

However, I am in possession of such a letter sent out by the department offering the units for purchase to these tenants.

Speaker, these same folk are being charged rates, taxes, maintenance and levies as renters of these units by the department.

This should not be happening as such payments are usually the responsibility of the owners of the rented units – in this case the department.

Speaker, perhaps the Honourable MEC could explain to this house why these tenants are being charged such exorbitant rentals and all these other fees?

So Speaker, in order to better provide and manage alternative Housing processes in the province, the Democratic Alliance policy in this regard is to do the following:

Firstly, all municipalities must be capacitated and empowered with functional housing units.

Secondly, all municipalities must be empowered and equipped to do land audits so that land can be identified for future sustainable social housing development.

Thirdly, the department must assist municipalities to identify “quick wins”- create rental and social housing accommodation by identifying empty office blocks in city centres and renovating these for habitation.

The idea of “Inner City rejuvenation” to create inner city centre environments conducive for rental and social housing development must be explored.

The establishment of a land fund to assist local authorities to acquire land is an imperative.

Legislative processes must be simplified and red tape cut to initiate such proposals.

Access to such accommodation would rejuvenate employment as beneficiaries reside in accommodation closer to work places.

This is particularly pertinent to the rental market where, by choice or affordability challenges, such beneficiaries are able to unlock rental and social housing options in this regard.

Enkosi