EDITORIAL | Government must get its housing in order
We’re sorry, but ‘empowering’ people to continue to live in poverty, only in better, self-built shacks, doesn’t cut it
The Western Cape government last week promoted an initiative called the “Better Living Challenge” (https://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/better-living-challenge-blc) to address a growing housing backlog. In essence, the provincial government is acknowledging it would be near impossible to continue building and supplying RDP houses to catch up with a 400,000 backlog in Cape Town. In return, however, the government undertakes to provide residents in informal settlements with “serviced sites”, which in any functioning democracy should be a given.
“The growing housing backlog ... due to significant population growth has resulted in a shift in national government policy from the provision of RDP houses as the principle solution, to an incremental approach that supports the provision of serviced sites,” it explained in a carefully worded statement. “Practically ... the majority of people on the housing list will have to wait a very long time for a top structure.”
While it is laudable that the provincial government is frank enough to admit its housing failures, its solution illustrates just how far the provincial and national governments have fallen behind on housing targets and how desperate the situation has become. ..