Western Cape government housing project slammed for being 'out of touch'

12 August 2021 - 11:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
The Better Living Challenge project aims to assist residents with self-build skills and knowledge.
Image: Western Cape/Twitter The Better Living Challenge project aims to assist residents with self-build skills and knowledge.

The Western Cape government has been slammed for its latest housing project.

This week, the province's department of human settlements and the department of economic affairs and tourism announced an initiative, the Better Living Challenge (BLC) project, which aims to assist residents with self-build skills and knowledge. 

The provincial departments said the knowledge can be used to build “better structures in an informal settlement”.

The project also developed a 13-part video series to help residents of informal settlements “gain a better understanding of topics such as layout, foundations and building double-storey structures”.

The province said the project falls under the Western Cape's 110% Green initiative and its strategic focus on “green economy working for the poor”. 

It said the project was a solution to the province's growing housing backlog due to the significant population growth that has resulted in a shift in national government policy from the provision of RDP houses. 

“The Western Cape government is implementing this policy, and where houses are being built via the subsidy scheme, there is a shift from free-standing units to complexes,” said the province. 

It said the majority of the people on the housing list will have to wait a very long time for a top structure and there is no provision in the subsidy structure for governments to provide informal housing, except for emergency housing in the event of shack fires or for people to receive finance that would enable improvements to informal houses.

“Simply accepting a future for the Western Cape with large portions of its population living in dismal conditions, particularly in winter, is not an option,” said the province.

“Solutions need to be found to enable people to incrementally improve their homes and to have access to affordable housing as income levels improve. New alternative and green technologies, together with the design expertise that exists in the province, offers opportunities to make a real difference.”

On social media, many expressed their opinions on the project, with some calling for the province to provide better housing and not ideas on how to build “better shacks". 

Here is a snapshot of what some had to say: