Last week, Blikkiesdorp residents met with Mayor Patricia de Lille to discuss community concerns, after which a meeting between the Mayor and the residents was scheduled for two weeks’ time. While those who attended the meeting said that the meeting was a success, in a community meeting held on Sunday, residents said that they are not prepared to relocate unless the City is able to provide good quality houses.
Secretary of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee Etienne Claasen explained that despite the success of the meeting hosted at the Mayor’s office, residents do not want to be relocated to substandard homes and that all decisions will be decided upon by all community members.
“The community is actually fed up now, because it is almost ten years that we have lived here, so they want adequate housing for all,” he said.
While the City has affirmed that all residents who qualify for homes will be allocated a home, those who do not qualify are questioning their future.
In addition to the lack of availability of housing in the City, national government has adopted stringent qualification criteria for the allocation of homes. Including an age limit, which states that residents need to be 40 years and older in order to qualify for a home.
“Residents were really upset when they heard that they must be 40 years or older, since the elderly are now concerned about the welfare of their children who cannot qualify,” Claasen said.
He explained that the City will provide a piece of service land for residents who do not qualify for the land and those who are under 40 years of age.
“We all want to move out this space, we do not want to leave anyone behind here,” Claasen asserted.
In response to concerns raised in Sunday’s community meeting, Mayco Member for Human Settlements Bennedicta Van Minnen described the meeting on Thursday as a positive exchange, in which the way forward was discussed and reiterated the City’s commitment to the people of Blikkiesdorp.
“We assured them that going forward we are in a two-way exchange with them and that any move made will include them, at all levels,” van Minnen affirmed.
While the residents of Blikkiesdorp face numerous challenges, including uninhabitable surroundings, crime, and depression, van Minnen confirmed that the City intends to repurpose the land.
In light of community members citing concern that they may never be relocated, she said that since Blikkiesdorp is a temporary relocation area, numerous residents have relocated to areas such as Delft.
“So certainly people are not stuck in Blikkiesdorp without hope of going forward. We have reiterated that people who do qualify for housing opportunities are constantly receiving these opportunities,” she said.
Van Minnen said that in addition to granting homes to those who qualify, the City faces the challenge of constantly reassessing the number of people residing in the area due to the informal sale of structures. In response, the City is scheduled to conduct another survey in the area, in which it will evaluate who qualifies for housing.
In a report that was commissioned by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), plans to upgrade the airport are outlined, which includes the relocation of Blikkiesdorp, along with the neighbouring Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp residents.
“Residents will be relocated due to safety concerns, irrespective of whether the runway is re-aligned or not,” the report stated.
Van Minnen explained that since Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp are located on ACSA land residents, therefore, need to be relocated. The City is considering land to the east of symphony way to accommodate the relocation.
“That said, we must remember that we have about 300 000 names on the waiting list for the City of cape Town, which represents about a million people, so there is a great area of need when it comes to housing opportunities.”
Van Minnen explained the criteria for the qualification of housing are legislated by national government and that the City is considering alternatives for residents who do not qualify for a subsidy.
“The criteria includes; earning less than R3500 a month, belonging to a vulnerable group (having a disability or being a military veteran), or being over 40 years old. Those who do not qualify certainly won’t find themselves high and dry with no opportunities, as the City is looking at the option of service sites,” she continued.
In the next meeting with the Mayor, residents will discuss the expected dates on which relocation will take place, where they will be relocated to, and how many residents qualify for housing.