This is not progress: Big busi

Photo: GroundUp

This is not progress: Big business is forcing Cape Town’s poorest citizens into relocation camps

We spoke to housing experts Ndifuna Ukwazi on the apartheid-like treatment some residents face

This is not progress: Big busi

Photo: GroundUp

Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) released the damning 94-page report “I Used to Live There” earlier in the week, which slammed Cape Town officials and their  disregard for poverty-stricken citizens

Those who cannot meet the ludicrously inflated rent prices are being forced into relocation camps more than 30km away, which has all the disgusting hallmarks of apartheid spatial planning.

The average household income in CPT is about R13,000 p/m, allowing a family to qualify for a home loan of roughly R336,000. The average home in the city costs just over R1 million. In order to afford a home, a resident must earn 3 times the average income.

Read: Cape Town housing activists say property market is a form of ‘contemporary apartheid’

Julian Sendin is NU’s senior researcher, and he spoke to us about the unacceptable effects rapid gentrification is having on the poor:

“Breadwinners effectively lose access to their jobs, children are ripped out from schools, sick people can no longer easily access their local clinic. Families who have been moved from Woodstock to Blikkiesdorp all talk about the loss of networks that helped everybody to cope with everyday challenges.”

“Churches, mosques, community centres, neighbours and families all form part of these networks which take generations to build. These essential relationships are not taken into account by the government when relocating people.”

According to Sendin’s research, Sociologists say losing that ‘social fabric’ creates a violent culture as seen on the Cape Flats. There are ‘profound parallels’ between what is happening now with camps and what was happening during apartheid:

NU’s senior researcher believes that there are better, more humane options for rehoming people:

“‘Transitional housing’ must be coupled with appropriate social services to assist with job seeking, with child minding and the like. This is the type of supportive environment that will assist people to get back on their feet.

This type of housing solution must be incorporated into larger public housing developments to ensure that the whole housing ladder is available – there needs to be a supply of permanently affordable housing in well-located areas for people to graduate into or transitional housing won’t work”

Julian accepts that the state can’t just do this on their own, and the government must use resources from the private sector. He believes ‘land-use regulation’ is the best way for the government to attract their investment:

“One of the key levers available to local government is land-use regulation. The City of Cape Town regularly grants additional development rights that allow developer’s to build bigger and taller buildings. These rights can be worth tens of millions of Rands, and the City should use them to negotiate for a contribution towards affordable housing.”

Honest, hard-working Capetonians are having their lives torn apart by negligent housing policies. This is not the democracy South Africa fought for, and Sendin is making sure he and his NU team fight for those who can’t take on big business.