by Tracy Stevens

A sense of entitlement

Cape Town's poorer citizens receive title deeds

The City homes its poor
Title deeds to poorer citizens

The City aims to address pressing issues head on, including the challenges faced within housing and transport. Thus far, it has generated a multibillion-rand investment in creating an integrated public transport system.

The City hopes to provide its historically marginalised communities, such as those from Atlantis to Khayelitsha, with the same opportunities as those in more developed areas. This will enable them to access economic opportunities utilising safe and reliable public transport networks.

In partnership with the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, the City has added investment in broadband infrastructure to its list. This will ultimately connect the City to the world through a faster broadband backbone. This infrastructure will be provided to underserviced communities in an attempt to attract the private sector. The thought process behind this is that it would act as an incentive for the private sector to take up surplus capacity and provide cheap and fast connectivity within these communities.

A successful community is built upon a foundation – a place where people have economic freedom and economic choices. In most instances, this is directly linked to ownership. Property prices in South Africa have been on quite a roller-coaster ride. One has but to view websites such as MyRoof to see how many properties have been repossessed. Even though the past few years have allowed many to become home owners, this is still out of reach for poorer citizens.

In today's economy, the major asset from which all other opportunities can be leveraged is the home. The City is aware of this and has provided title deeds to qualifying beneficiaries. This will entitle those who fall within the lower income bracket to become home owners.

Having a title to property is a fundamental requirement of a free market system, as it allows a home owner to derive an income and to access capital. A title enables recipients to start or expand a business venture which, in turn, enables them to derive an income stream and help create jobs.

In order to make this a reality, the process has been channelled in three ways. The first is to ensure the transfer of a title in new housing projects. Recently, 236 beneficiaries received their title deeds to a housing project in Kewtown, Athlone. This handover of title deeds will take place on a weekly basis.

It is estimated that within the next few months, a total of 70 title deeds would have been handed over in Temperance Town, 3 000 in Site C, Khayelitsha and 130 in Kuyasa, where 2 200 have been handed over in the last two to three years.

Ownership has also been offered to beneficiaries in existing housing. To date, there are 16 000 salable units in the City. These include row houses, semi-detached as well as freestanding houses. These are units that can be surveyed with a title transference, 2 500 units throughout the city have been identified for transfer this year.

The City will make use of every available mechanism to ensure costs are kept to an absolute minimum for qualifying beneficiaries, including the provision of the full R88 000 subsidy to cover the property price and any rental arrears. The conveyance costs will also be covered by the City – welcoming news for those who were victims of forced removals during the apartheid era. Qualifying beneficiaries who reside in the Steurhof rental units will also receive titles. With financial independence comes a sense of dignity, and one could assume this to be the underlying objective.

Residents within housing projects completed more than 10 years ago will also be recipients of titles. The failure to transfer title in these projects is a national problem, which has arisen from the fact that many of these areas were not properly surveyed, and were subject to illegal occupation, among a range of other factors.

The City has appointed a consultant to overcome these difficulties and to ensure that, over the coming years, title is afforded to an estimated 30 000 possible beneficiaries. 

We are currently focused on nine areas as part of a pilot project. These projects include 4 958 beneficiaries, of which 1 874 have received titles, with the City in the process of finalising the remainder.

The City has realised that the greatest investment it can make is in its people. This makes financial sense. It makes business sense.

But whatever else it does, it is the right thing to do.

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