Tshwane beneficiaries get keys to housing project’s inner city units

Minister of the Department of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi this week unveiled the Townlands Social Housing Project in Pretoria.

The housing project is a 1,200-unit social housing development that offers low-cost rental accommodation to qualifying residents of Tshwane. Beneficiaries who qualify fall in the income band of R1,850 to R22,000 per month. 

Affordable housing in city centre, with amenities

The affordable housing development will enable residents to live near the city centre and have access to economic opportunities. This is part of redressing the housing backlog in the city.

The development includes a community development centre. It also has 176 one-bedroom units, 1,012 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units. The development also includes an outdoor gym, among other amenities.

Speaking at the project launch, Kubayi said social housing is a valuable intervention to deal with informal settlements. It also deals with backyard dwellings and people staying in unsafe inner-city buildings.

She said government is creating opportunities for people to stay in safe government-subsidised rental housing. These are closer to work, school, transport nodes, and other social amenities. This while addressing the unjust legacy of apartheid spatial planning.

“Our interactions with approved tenants at Townlands and similar developments across the country are indicative of a trend. We find beneficiaries or tenants who would have formerly stayed in an informal settlement. And [through the project] transitioned to a formal area.

Addressing problem of hijacked, unsafe buildings

“Others lived in the inner-city and were subjected to paying a lot of money in unsafe environments. While others were paying money for accommodation to people who don’t even own these buildings,” Kubayi said.

Kubayi said a biometrics system will be integrated into the property, in addition to the current security measures. This is to also address the issue of sub-tenanting by approved beneficiaries. A situation where people bring people who are not registered onto the property and sub-let them.

“People want to feel safe, and the biometrics upgrading will ensure safer communities. This is in line with our Freedom Charter prescripts. The Freedom Charter provides that there shall be houses, security and comfort for all,” Kubayi said.

Caution against culture of non-payment

The minister has urged beneficiaries to pay their rental timeously. The are expected to also help maintain the long-term sustainability of the projects to avoid their collapse.

Apart from Townlands, which has now been completed, Kubayi said three other projects are in the pipeline. These will deliver over 2,000 units in the city. Their “success depends partly on beneficiaries also meeting their rental obligations”.

The department worked closely with its entity, the Social Housing Regulatory Agency (SHRA). They both partnered with Housing Company Tshwane (HCT) in the development of the housing project.

Kubayi said there are currently about 6,000 applications received from potential tenants.

The minister commended the three spheres of government for delivering the project. They collaborated with beneficiaries, contractors, and community leaders.

Tenant exit strategy incorporated
“Our focus will also be on an exit strategy for the tenant, as we don’t want them to remain tenants forever,” she said.
Deputy minister, Pamela Tshwete, who accompanied the minister, said she was encouraged by the fact that the project was championed by women contractors.

“In the last financial year, the department spent R3.1-billion as part of the 40% set aside for women-owned companies. These are contracted to build and help government to resolve the housing backlog,” Tshwete said.

As an orphan, Pretoria-based Lebogang Tlhabane spent a lot of time moving around. This because she did not have a place to call home.

Place of refuge for Pretoria orphan

Being a transgender woman, she felt isolated. Her safety was being compromised while seeking shelter in unusual places.

Today, Tlhabane’s prospects have changed for the better. This thanks to government’s Townlands Social Housing Project in Marabastad in Tshwane. Tlhabane has now found a safety net, which represents hope for the future.

She is among the beneficiaries of the housing Project unveiled this week by minister,  Kubayi.

“I am an orphan, and I don’t have a home, so I had to move around a lot. Survival on the streets was a challenge because my safety as a transgender woman was compromised. And I am happy Townlands is my new home. I will be able to spend Christmas this year with my baby brother and friends around me,” said an elated Thlabane.

Over one million houses built in Gauteng since 1994

Meanwhile, Gauteng human settlements and infrastructure development MEC, Lebogang Maile, lauded the project. He said the democratic government had done significant work since 1994 in providing shelter for vulnerable people.

Maile said the Townlands development is a true testament to that.

“We are sitting with no less than 1.3 million houses built in Gauteng since 1994. Today, we have about two million people in the national housing register. 1.2 million of those [houses] are in the economic hub of Gauteng. Here the population has doubled, [due to those] in search of economic opportunities,” Maile said.

Tshwane MMC for human settlements, Ofentse Madzabatela, said he was looking forward to the roll out of more projects. This will help to deal with apartheid-era spatial planning, which kept people away from economic opportunities.

To apply for Townlands Social Housing Project, visit Housing Company Tshwane, 310 Pretorius Street Pretoria, or call (012) 358-4469 for more information.

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