With stories of evictions and the unlawful occupation of buildings increasingly occurring in Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory, the topic of spatial justice and the need for affordable housing in the inner city cannot be stressed enough. Just last week, Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Jonty Cogger explained that “we have to look at the root cause of why we need affordable housing in Cape Town… [which] stems from the need to advance the principle of spatial justice and to correct some of the historical legacies of Apartheid.” Following this logic in some sense, the City has explained that local government is trying to address the issue of affordable housing for everybody in Cape Town and is trying to consider input from all citizens.
Referring to the progress made with the IDP (The Five-Year Integrated Development Plan adopted by the City in August 2018), Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements at the City of Cape Town, Councillor Malusi Booi said that “things are moving” but explained that progress may not be as fast as all stakeholders want it to be, due to bureaucratic red tape.
“Since last year we have embarked on a process of developing this particular policy [the IDP]…we are the second city to develop this policy, although it will be different in how we structure it,” said Booi.
“Things are moving, but remember that within government there are certain regulations you need to follow. You don’t just get a document today and then tomorrow it’s out in the public…there are processes we need to follow. We need to follow due process to ensure that the process is fair and credible.”
Booi added that a number of social factors informed the development of the plan, with one key issue being that of housing affordability within and around the city centre.
According to an article for GroundUp, however, “There is a disconnect between what the City says and what it does when it comes to housing, development, and urban planning.”
“The recent eviction of 80-year-old Kenneth Blaine, who has been living in a council-owned house in Woodstock since 1976, and an elderly woman in Salt River, who according to Reclaim the City (RTC) activists received a notice her lease will be terminated after she was unable to afford her rent being increased from R243 to R5,500 per month, contradicts the City’s mission statement that it is ‘a caring City’…” – GroundUp
Following the information provided in the same GroundUp article, with the average household income (taken as the middle of the median range) in Cape Town at R4,775 according to the last census of 2011, rental costs and housing opportunities for purchase are not affordable for the average person in Cape Town at all. The demand for affordable accommodation is even further strained due to the ever-growing need for student accommodation near the city’s tertiary institutions, many of which are centrally located.
“The national law is very clear: spatial justice is a principal that must be applied,” Cogger is quoted as saying in the GroundUp article.