Cape Town: AEC Press Release – Community to hold mass meeting with Housing MEC over poor quality, high rent homes

Newfields village/CTCHC Homes Residents Anti-Eviction Campaign Press Release
Wednesday 5th September
12 noon

CAPE TOWN – Next Sunday, 16th August 2007, at 2pm at the Lansport Civic Centre in Hanover Park, the community will be meeting Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi from the ANC and DA City Councillor in charge of Housing, Dan Plato to discuss the housing crisis in the area.

The community, living in houses in Newfields Village, Hanover Park, Luyoloville, Philippi, Heideveld, Westridge, Eastridge and Manenberg, is extremely angered that after winning a long struggle to have their highly defective homes repaired, they are now being told to pay unaffordable rentals of almost R1000 per month.

About 2500 houses were built by the Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC) in 2000, of which the city council is a 50 percent shareholder. These houses were rented out to people on the basis that the rent would be R350 per month. Soon after the residents moved in, the CTCHC hiked the rent up to R800 per month. At the same time, cracks started appearing in the walls of the houses although they were newly built. Water poured in through the roofs.

The residents then waged a five year struggle to have the houses evaluated by an independent body and thereafter repaired. Although they were living in shocking conditions, the CTCHC for years denied that there was anything wrong with the houses. They finally admitted that the houses were defective and an independent forensic engineering audit was conducted. R35 million has now been set aside to repair the homes, showing clearly that the houses were indeed extremely sub-standard.

In those five years however, the extremely poor communities were forced to spend what little money they had on repairing the houses themselves in order to go on living in them. They will not be compensated for this.

The community is now even more angered after being told by the CTCHC “Communications Manager” Michael Ralo that the rent of R350 quoted to all of them was not the real rental but only a “test to determine whether they were able to pay rent”.

The residents have rejected this nonsense totally. The residents are willing to pay the R350 per month as agreed, and nothing more. They are all far too poor to be able to entertain random rent hikes.

The residents are demanding that the so-called “arrears” be scrapped immediately. These arrears are fraudulent figures calculated on amounts based on the higher rental that were built up while the houses were virtually uninhabitable.

For comment please call Gary Hartzenberg of the Anti-Eviction Campaign on 082 3140515