Morningstar housing needs not met

Morningstar residents say the City has failed to meet the housing needs of families in the area with the R34 million Morningstar Housing Development, which is expected to be complete in July.

Morningstar Development and Upliftment Initiative (MDUI) chairman Zane Williams said the project did not cater to the needs of the community, which had about 150 backyarders.

At a public meeting on Monday November 13, he questioned how the City had chosen beneficiaries.

The 166-unit development on the corner of School and Pikkewyn streets, spans more than 1.6ha and will benefit 664 people on the City’s housing waiting list. Of these houses, 152 will be double-storey houses and 14 single-storey.

Mayor Patricia de Lille attended the sod-turning in February.

The project has been five years in the making, and at the time Ms De Lille admitted it was moving too slowly (“Morningstar gets RDP housing,” Northern News March 2).

Ms De Lille has hailed the project as tackling apartheid planning by bringing people closer to work and transport.

Morningstar residents, however, say this is all smoke and mirrors – as many of them have not been approved for the housing. At last week’s meeting they vented their frustration with the housing process, saying there had been inadequate consultation.

Mr Williams said they had been told the development would have RDP and GAP housing, but later they had learned it would only be RDP housing. Only residents who earn less than R3 500 are eligible for this type of housing. Mr Williams said that had left residents in limbo: most of them earned a little more than the R3 500 but nowhere near enough to apply for a bond.

“We have people (backyarders) who have been on the waiting list for 20 years and longer — yet they do not qualify for the housing. If the City did a proper study of the area, they would see the need for a mixed-housing development,” he said. Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the City had done a socio-economic survey of all Morningstar residents in 2011. It had followed up with public meetings and an election of a project steering committee in 2012. There had then been more meetings and workshops to date. Beneficiaries had been chosen in terms of the City’s housing allocation policy. Mr Herron said residents had asked for a mix of housing opportunities, but the City never agreed to that as the scale of the project had not allowed for GAP housing. “The biggest need in Morningstar is for state-subsidised housing. We did, however, agree that we would consider developing GAP housing elsewhere in the area,” he said. According to the City, 132 Morningstar residents had been approved as beneficiaries, but Mr Williams refuted that, saying they only knew of about 15 approved beneficiaries. He said they had asked the City for the beneficiary list on several occasions and had up till now, not received anything. At the public meeting, a Durbanville resident — who stays 1km from Morningstar – said she had tried to get a home for her char at the development but was turned away as she was not from the “area”. Her char had been living with her for the past 21 years but could not qualify for the housing. Aldean du Plooy said she had spent her entire life in Morningstar and been on the waiting list since 1995 but had not qualified for an RDP house. She said she had discovered recently that her papers had “disappeared” and she was no longer on the waiting list.

Her husband, Rodney, said the family of five would never be able to qualify for a bond. He said they longed for a place to call their own but feared that would remain a dream.

Mr Herron said beneficiaries throughout the city were faced with a situation where their monthly earnings had slowly increased so that their income now exceeded the national government’s criteria of R3 500 a month for a state-subsidised house. Beneficiaries whose monthly income exceeded that limit were earmarked for GAP housing. He said it was the national government, not the City, that set the income limit for RDP housing.“The City must adhere to these benchmarks,” he said.

Mr Williams, who does not qualify for a home, said the MDUI would not rest until all backyarders had a place of their own.