SPEECH BY HELEN ZILLE, MAYOR OF CAPE TOWN, ISILIMELA SECONDARY SCHOOL SPORTS GROUND, LANGA, SATURDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2007, 10H00.
Western Cape Housing Minister, Richard Dyantyi, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Housing, Cllr Dan Plato, City officials, ladies and gentlemen.
The Hostels Redevelopment Programme is one of the City of Cape Town's key housing initiatives, and has been carried out in partnership with the Provincial government.
It is one of the ways in which we are working to accelerate the provision of housing opportunities to the people of Cape Town.
By the end of this year, phase 6 of the Hostel Redevelopment Programme will be complete, and 4725 out of a total of over 8000 hostel units will have been converted into dignified homes for our people.
To achieve this, residential areas have been redesigned, the floor areas of buildings have been doubled by infill, infrastructure has been upgraded and space for economic activity has been created.
In Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga, entire street blocks have already been converted into family accommodation.
Today we hand over 64 newly converted hostels to the first recipients of 564 units in Zone 26, Langa.
Among those who will benefit are a number of victims of the 2005 Joe Slovo fire, which destroyed about 5000 homes.
So far the City has committed R80 million to this project, and R127 million was provided in National Housing subsidies.
However, the driving force behind the Hostels Redevelopment has been the residents and community members of Langa, Nyanga and Gugulethu, who worked together under the banner of the 'Dibanisa Iintsapho' campaign.
Since the early 1980s these residents have pushed for the conversion of men-only hostels to accommodate families and create dignified homes.
They also established an NGO, staffed by community members, to facilitate this process in partnership with government.
And they have acted as consultants through a Negotiating Forum, which continues to make inputs into the programme, and informs municipal policy regarding its administration and management.
Most of the labour involved in construction on this project has also been drawn from the hostels community.
Today's celebration is about people gaining new homes after years of waiting.
However, it should also be a celebration of what the hostel community has achieved here.
I commend them for over 20 years of determination.
It is heartbreaking that this has taken so long.
But in the process of struggling for a better life, they have provided us with a lesson in what dedication and community spirit can achieve.
The work carried out here has become so successful that in a recent National Department of Housing best practices booklet, it is recognized as setting a '...precedent (that) could usefully be applied to the 600 000 hostel beds countrywide'.
We have been fortunate to have strong community leadership on this project.
We have avoided the violence that preceded the formation of the National Hostels Coordinating Committee.
There are a number of challenges that still need to be overcome, however.
We need to avoid conflict of the kind that has delayed phase 5 of the project.
Disruption and politicking is a threat to the long- term viability of the hostels to homes programme.
I understand that many residents are frustrated with the time it takes to accommodate everyone who needs a home.
This is a problem that we have across Cape Town, from Somerset West, to Mitchells Plain to Atlantis.
I appeal to the community and its leadership to resolve disagreements peacefully, and to keep in touch with the City regarding any problems that may arise.
I also encourage all new tenants to pay for the services and rentals so that we can keep this project going for everyone. It is only if each one of us does our part that we can succeed.
This will also help to ensure that we can secure further funding for phases 7 onward of this project from the various spheres of government and other agencies.
Our other major challenge is land availability. In fact, one of the main reasons that we cannot build more houses across the City as a whole is that there is not enough land ready for houses to be built.
In this project, we need more land to accommodate hostel residents who have been displaced during the conversion.
If we can resolve these challenges, we should see over 3000 new homes emerge from this Hostels to Homes initiative.
I look forward to returning here to celebrate with you when we finally reach that goal.
I thank you.
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE MAYOR
CELL: 087 977 9888