STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER: TRANSPORT AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON
The City of Cape Town has concluded its arguments in the Bromwell case in the Western Cape High Court this afternoon, 1 February 2017.
We have stated that:
· the City has offered seven households who live in the Bromwell Street properties temporary emergency accommodation in Wolwerivier
· the temporary emergency accommodation that we have offered to these seven households, comprising 16 adults and 11 children, complies with the requirements and obligations imposed on the City by the Constitution and the National Housing Code
· Wolwerivier is the closest temporary emergency accommodation which the City can offer to the seven households
· we will assist the families to relocate to Wolwerivier by providing transport to move their furniture and belongings
· Wolwerivier is an emergency temporary accommodation area serviced with plumbing, water and electricity infrastructure and gravel roads
· the structures are fitted with an internal toilet and wash basin
· the City does not have any emergency housing developments available within the city centre. We have not embarked on any such developments due to the scarcity of land and the competing demands on such land; and the fact that the costs in developing an emergency housing settlement in the city are at least three-fold what they would be in areas further afield
· the Constitution does not guarantee a person the right to housing at government expense at the location of their choice as locality is determined by a number of factors, including the availability of land
· we have a limited budget for the provision of permanent housing opportunities and emergency accommodation to those in need
· an estimated 652 000 households in Cape Town will need some support from the City in respect of housing between now and 2032. We are striving to maintain a reasonable balance between available resources and the overall demands on those resources, not just by the people under consideration – in this case the Bromwell families – but the population in generalThe Bromwell families argue that they should be given a preferential right to relocate to a location as near as possible to Bromwell Street. They have applied for a court order declaring that the City is under a Constitutional duty to provide them and their dependents with temporary emergency accommodation as near as possible to Bromwell Street and to do so within three months.
The City is opposing the application.
We have argued that the Bromwell residents are not entitled to temporary emergency housing at a location of their choice – that being in Salt River or Woodstock. We have stated in court that the City does not have temporary emergency housing available in these areas for this purpose.
In our view there ought to be parity and fairness in the provision of housing assistance to those who are in need.
We argued in court that the resources allocated for the provision of emergency housing should not impede the City’s ability to progressively provide permanent housing to those in need and who qualify for these opportunities.
We cannot support an unfair, haphazard and discriminatory approach as all housing, including emergency accommodation, is developed for all who may require it throughout the city. If people are allowed a location of their choice, those who are patiently awaiting their turn will be prejudiced and the City could not then budget for or plan any housing opportunities in an orderly manner.
None of the households who are still residing in the houses along Bromwell Street will be homeless on account of the eviction order that was granted to the Woodstock Hub in August last year. This is because the City has offered temporary emergency accommodation to every household that has not obtained alternative housing, and we have done so irrespective of the families’ income levels or personal circumstances.
We have gone to great lengths to assist the affected residents in applying for subsidised State housing, social housing, and GAP and FLISP housing opportunities.
The City was not involved in the private sale of the houses along Bromwell Street to the Woodstock Hub in October 2013. Neither were we involved in the litigation pertaining to the eviction of the people residing in these houses.
The City became involved in September 2016, as soon as we became aware of the plight of these families. This intervention was spontaneous and out of our concern not to see families being homeless. Since then we have played an active role in assisting the families within our means and in compliance with the applicable legislation and policies.
The City has social housing developments planned for Salt River and Woodstock at six different locations. These opportunities are intended for residents with income levels of between R1 500 and R7 500, depending on the particular development.
The exact number of housing opportunities to be provided at each site will be known once the planning processes have been concluded, save to say that the current estimate is 3 000.
Residents, inclusive of the seven households whom we will provide with temporary emergency accommodation in Wolwerivier, will be able to apply for these opportunities once construction has commenced within the next 18 months.