Call for policy on affordable housing

Local councillors have urged the City of Cape Town’s Transport and Urban Development Authority (TDA) to fast-track the development of policy which would govern the construction of affordable housing.

In a motion submitted at the most recent meeting of the Good Hope Subcouncil, ward councillor Dave Bryant called on the TDA to expedite the process of developing a policy on affordable housing.

The motion states: “Recent discussions and deliberations around certain planning matters have given rise to a renewed interest in promoting affordable housing opportunities in well-located developments. Some of these have been heard at planning tribunal meetings where tribunal members have often been placed in a difficult position when considering the inclusion of affordable housing in private developments, partly due to a lack of clear policy direction and legislation”.

Brett Herron, the Mayco member for transport and urban development, explains that City officials’ decisions are guided by Council-approved policies as well as relevant national and provincial policies.

“The policy development process is a quite lengthy process which requires comments and approvals from various role players within the City and must undergo public participation. The overall process from inception to final Council approval depends on the complexity of the policy being developed. On average, it takes approximately nine months for a policy to be approved,” he says.

At the moment, the City implements the housing programmes as set out in the National Housing Code, which regulates the spending and implementation of national grant funding for human settlements programmes.

Of the housing programmes in the National Housing Code, currently the Social Housing Programme and the Finance-Linked Individual Subsidy Programme speak to the provision of affordable housing and this is being implemented by the City, Herron adds.

Affordable housing within the context of the National Housing Code refers to households that earn a monthly income of R3500 to R15 000. These households do not qualify for a free government-subsidised house. Free subsidised houses are for qualifying households who earn less than R3500 per month.

“In the context of the motion, however, we are looking at the role of the private sector to contribute towards the provision of affordable housing through the development of an inclusionary housing policy – the policy the subcouncil was encouraging us to undertake,” he says.

The City is in the process of conducting research on alternative methods to address the issue of providing more affordable housing in the property market for low- to middle-income households. This research aims to address gaps in national policy and to respond to the Cape Town housing context.

“We are currently conducting research on inclusionary housing, which aims to incentivise the private sector to develop affordable housing as part of their market-related residential developments or through off-site contributions,” he says.