More than 100 people marched on Saturday at three of 11 sites for social and affordable housing projects in Woodstock and Salt River in Cape Town.

The march marked five years since Cape Town first identified the 11 housing sites.

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The city says the main constraints to achieving affordable housing projects are the cost and time involved in illegal occupations. He attributes delays to social housing projects in central Cape Town to occupations in 2017 by “Ndifuna Ukwazi under the Reclaim the City banner”.

“It has been five years since a field [at Victoria Park in Woodstock] was intended for social housing. When will the houses be built? asked Karen Hendricks, a member of the housing movement, Reclaim the City.

On Saturday, Hendricks was among more than a hundred people who drove through the neighborhoods surrounding Cape Town’s city center to sites where social housing developments are to be built.

People marching to three sites in Woodstock and Salt River in Cape Town on Saturday. Image: Tariro Washinyira, GroundUp

Many of the walkers live at the old Woodstock Hospital which has been renamed by the occupants to Cissie Gool House. The old hospital is home to many people displaced by the gentrification of the Woodstock and Salt River communities.

GroundUp has reported about the occupation and the challenges many occupiers have faced since the start of the Covid lockdown.

The march, organized by Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi, was to highlight Cape Town’s failure to build affordable housing in well-located areas as it had promised.

At the Victoria Park site, walkers drew outlines of housing floor plans in white chalk.

“We stand in blocks that could be our future homes,” Hendricks said. “Over the past five years, there has been no transparency from the government regarding this site. The facilities are not built for large families and they are made without our participation. We say nothing for us without us.

Hendricks said they wanted the city to compile a report and investigation Residents of Cissie Gool House on their eligibility for future affordable and social housing projects.

The organizations said the occupations of Cissie Gool House and Ahmed Kathrada House in Green Point (formerly Helen Bowden Nurses Home) are currently the only affordable housing opportunities for the poor and working class in the metro.

“It is home to elderly people, families headed by single women, as well as domestic workers, teachers and artisans,” Hendricks said.

“The city has not had the urgency to develop the 11 sites identified in 2017, and instead finds itself in a protracted court case attempt to evict over 300 families at Cissie Gool House.

Fagmeeda Ling, a leader of the former hospital occupation, was among the 13 families forced out from Albert Road in Woodstock.

“The City offered us alternative accommodation in Blikkiesdorp, Wolwerivier and Kampies. We didn’t want to be thrown 45km out of town because that’s where we were born and where we’ve been all our lives,” she said.

After the memorial march, a documentary on the Cissie Gool occupation directed by Sara CF of Gouveia was screened.

Ndifuna Ukwazi said only one of the projects has been completed. This is the Pickwick Road Transitional Housing Project which provides temporary accommodation for only 19 families.

“None of the other sites have even innovated! While some projects have shown signs of progress [including the Pine Road, Dillon Lane and Pickwick Road projects]most have stagnated or made no apparent progress,” said a July 11 press release issued by Ndifuna Ukwazi.

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Ndifuna Ukwazi said the 11 sites are: “Pickwick Road Transitional Housing (Salt River), Pine Road Social Housing (Salt River), Dillon Road Social Housing (Salt River), Salt River Market (Salt River), Remnant of Pickwick Road (Woodstock), New Market Street (Woodstock), Upper Canterbury Street (downtown), Fruit and Veg site (downtown), James Street (Salt River), Woodstock Hospital and Woodstock Hospital Park.

In a July 16 statement, Malusi Booi, a member of the mayor’s committee for human settlements, said the city has various social housing projects, in partnership with social housing institutions, underway in the city center.

Booi said this week the mayor’s committee would recommend to council that the Salt River Market site be turned over to the social housing partner for construction to begin.

According to the City of Cape Town, sites close to the construction phase include: Pine Road where approximately 240 homes are to be built and Dillon Road with 150 homes in Woodstock. The Salt River Market will see the construction of 200 units.

He said land use management projects still underway include New Market, where 200 units are to be built; Pickwick with 600 units; and Woodstock Hospital with 700 units.

“One of our major constraints in accelerating the affordable housing pipeline – particularly in some inner city sites – is the cost and time of illegal occupation, and the lengthy legal processes to unlock otherwise suitable land. Securing land and buildings is also a significant financial burden over time, but protecting valuable land is critical to affordable housing development,” the city said.

“The building hijackings orchestrated in March 2017 by Ndifuna Ukwazi under the Reclaim the City banner notably delayed flagship social housing projects in central Cape Town. We are determined to expedite this social housing through the appropriate legal channels. »

This article first appeared on GroundUp here.