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31 August 2022 Media Release: Social Housing Event – Own Haven Housing Association Introduced to Stakeholders

Media Release: Social Housing Event – Own Haven Housing Association Introduced to Stakeholders

31 August 2022

On Monday, 29 August 2022, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) held an event at the municipality’s Fire Station in George to introduce the GRDM Social Housing delivery partnership. After the formal activities, stakeholders conducted a walkabout to view the various proposed sites earmarked for possible Affordable Housing delivery. Although the walkabouts took place, the GRDM recognises that normal basic assessments processes would still need to be conducted and interested and affected parties consulted in the future. The related planning and engineering authorities (e.g. zoning and bulk or civil services studies/applications) of the proposed developments are also important. Considerations together with related public comments and eventual indications of support or objections must be considered before any final decisions can be made.

The introduction of Own Haven Housing Company, the appointed Social Rental Housing Delivery partner, was indeed a historic and prestigious moment and necessity as part of the event. It was attended by the Western Cape Government Minister of Infrastructure, MEC Tertuis Simmers, along with a delegation from his office, Mayors and councillors from the Garden Route District, Human Settlement representatives from the local municipalities in the district, and stakeholders and partners. The event truly highlighted the value of cooperative governance and partnership arrangements between different spheres of government in the aim for delivering affordable housing.

In its role as a leading, enabling, and inclusive district, GRDM believes that the key government strategic plans and interventions which emphasize the need for co-planning, co-budgeting, and co-implementation, as encouraged by the Joint Metro Development Approach (JMDA) and District Development Model (DDM), are essential anchors and important levers of the One Plan strategic approach.

In preparation and foundation of the afore-mentioned event, an earlier Memorandum of Agreement had been concluded formally between GRDM and the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements (WC DoHS), committing themselves as public partners to the long-term development objective of providing affordable housing until June 2025.

In addition, the GRDM’s Human Settlements Department earlier this year held a Strategic consultative workshop on 25th March 2022 with all the projected its development partners and stakeholders during which the concept of an Integrated District Approach to Human Settlement was advocated and promoted. More significantly, GRDM Human Settlement Department intention to align its functions with the local municipalities is an appropriate attempt to meet the requirements of co-planning, co-budgeting and co– implementation, was discussed. GRDM’s Integrated Human Settlements Strategic Plan and Human Settlements Sector Plan were also approved by the GRDM Council this year. According to Mr Mkunqwana of the GRDM’s Human Settlements Unit, these will guide and map the envisaged long-term development of affordable housing typologies in well located areas which spatially promote socio-economic integration and sustainability.

During the well-attended event, focus was placed on GRDM’s long term commitment to affordable housing, represented by the following housing products in well located areas:
• Social Rental Housing;
• FLISP/GAP Individual Home Ownership Schemes; and
• Inclusionary Housing.

Own Haven Housing Company Managing Director, Mr A Wiseman, delivered a brief background on how his company was established twenty years ago and their experience in the social housing sector. He explained how Own Haven initiated a partnership with a Dutch social housing company who were experts in this field, and with the East London Municipality at the time. In this way, South Africans and its broader context were introduced to the concept of social housing.

“We were established as the developer and management entity of the first housing project that was developed between Dunkin House Housing Association in the Netherlands and East London Municipality, a mere 380 units situated just outside Dunkin Village. Also, to offer a housing career to its residents, key to the presentation is that social housing is a permanent rental accommodation opportunity for its residents. They may over time choose to migrate to preferred alternative forms of individual ownership. In fact, it is not a rent-to-own or a community-owned model, but a step added to a municipality’s housing options and promotion of mobility in the affordable housing context.

Residents usually stay for four to six years, and as their families grow or their economic status improves or they relocate for work opportunities, they move on, which results in another family staying in the same apartment,” Wiseman said.
Clarification of the roles and responsibilities in delivering and managing rental housing opportunities in well-located areas to facilitate socio-economic integration over the long run was also shared. Also, Own Haven’s role in ensuring mobility from poverty entrapment zones to restructuring zones was elaborated on.

During his address, Alderman Memory Booysen, Executive Mayor of the GRDM told the audience that his adrenaline is pumping because Human Settlements is such an imperative and sensitive matter. “Colleagues in Human Settlements, there will always be tensions; there will always be instigators and “naysayers”. In Bitou, I witnessed trouble makers trying to stop the minister from handing over homes to the beneficiaries. However, I would like to commend Minister Simmers for setting the tone during an event that could have turned disastrous. You stood your ground and you led by example. You showed us that we should not let troublemakers stop the government from forming partnerships with beneficiaries – our communities.”

In his speech, he encouraged officials and attendees not to let anyone stop the delivery of Human Settlements to the communities. The use of human settlements to cause riots will continue and should not deter us as public authorities to offer appropriate affordable housing opportunities. If the good people rise up and stand together, municipalities can accomplish what government promised to do.

On a lighter note, Ald. Booysen explained that a person can enter any shopping centre or ask anybody whether they are in favour of Integrated Human Settlements and the answer will be yes, but the moment people realise that it will happen in their neighbourhood or that it will happen next to them, “then the not in my backyard or neighbourhood syndrome comes forward”. In conclusion Booysen emphasised that this GRDM Social Housing programme is district driven and will benefit all seven municipalities within the Garden Route. According to him, the GRDM is not trying to play big brother, but are in partnership with all the local municipalities in the district and the Western Cape Government in order to make this project a reality. “Only though partnership we will be able to achieve this, so let’s embrace it.”

MEC Simmers, Minister of Infrastructure for the Western Cape Government, spoke about “The essence of affordable housing partnerships – three spheres of government”. This is linked to the currently reviewed MoA concluded between the WC Government and the GRDM which focuses primarily on the following:
• Municipal accreditation
• Enhancement of the internal institutional capacity of the GRDM’ Human Settlements function

Minister Simmers reflected on the time when he started his journey as MEC of the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements in 2019, and explained that he then committed himself to four basic principles, “I chose the word radical for a specific reason; because I believe that you cannot continue doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. If so, you are failing the people you need to lead towards a better quality of life for if we do not do that, we will be failing our people. For that reason, I chose the word radical, because it means different inclinations, innovation and that you can do things and take your key stakeholders along on the journey,” Simmers stated in his speech.

According to MEC Simmers as the Western Cape Government, on our journey to roll out integrated human settlements, we need partnerships. I am glad I was chosen to speak on this topical matter. The reality is the fiscus is getting less and the budgets in terms of Human Settlements are getting smaller. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to expand our base of partnerships,” he said.

MEC Simmers further explained that in 2019 he could not ‘get his head around’ how social housing funding works. “Houses are built; bases are expanded; no profit is made, and multi-million rand budgets are spent. However, at an information session, I learned that partnerships are essential. Also that there is funding available in the world to organisations that have a clear, solid, policy framework. This gives organisations a clear plan on how a budget will be spent.” He shared with the attendees that the GRDM is the first district municipality in WCG history with whom they have entered into a partnership, because in his opinion, a district municipality forms part of the local government ‘family’, although their role may have changed, they still have a mandate to carry out. The MEC encouraged municipalities to work together and to make communities part of their journeys. He called on councillors to become the voice of their communities and to embody the partnerships which honour the visions of the provincial and national governments.

In conclusion, MEC Simmers mentioned that there is a total distortion of what affordable and social housing is, but that affordable housing is the core focus of the WCG. “If you are a councillor and you don’t understand the concepts yet, you really need to wake-up and contact the WCG Human Settlements Department in order to be empowered with the requisite skills. It is said that when you start with the end in mind, you will know what bridges to cross to get you to the end,” he said.

After the formal program, the following sites were visited as potential sites for planned developments:

• Erf 26823, Omega Street, George (owned by GRDM)
• Erven 6236, 6231, 659, 658, CJ Langenhoven Street, George (Owned by the Department of Public Works)
• Erven 140-143, Plantation Road, George (Owned by Department of Public Works)
• Erven 152-155, Barrie Road, George (Owned by Department of Public Works)

The GRDM intends to build therefore the aforementioned affordable housing options based on choice and different needs relative to government gazetted combined monthly income thresholds which are for those earning between R1850 – R22 000 respectively. These consists of FLISP/GAP individual ownership opportunities. Social rental housing opportunities will be developed and managed over the long term by Own Haven, as the formally appointed GRDM Social Housing delivery partner. Individual home ownership schemes like FLISP/GAP on the hand will be handled by the latter or alternatively, by appointed contractors as per the GRDM’s Supply Chain Management procurement processes.