Townlands social housing provides safety net for homeless beneficiary

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

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

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

Tlhabane is among the beneficiaries of the Townlands Social Housing Project unveiled this week by Human Settlements Minister, Mmamoloko 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.

The Townlands Social Housing Project is a 1 200-unit social housing develo
pment that offers low-cost rental accommodation to qualifying residents of Tshwane, who fall in the income band of R1 850 to R22 000 per month.

The affordable housing development will enable residents of Tshwane to live near the city centre to have access to economic opportunities, thus redressing the housing backlog in the city.

The Townlands Social Housing development includes a community development centre, with 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, backyard dwelling and people staying in unsafe inner-city buildings.

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

‘Our interactions wi
th approved tenants at Townlands and similar developments across the country are indicative of a trend whereby we find beneficiaries or tenants who would have formerly stayed in an informal settlement and transitioned to a formal area.

“Others lived in the inner-city and were subjected to paying a lot of money in unsafe environments. 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 to also address the issue of sub-tenanting by approved beneficiaries, where people bring people who are not registered onto the property.

‘People want to feel safe and the biometrics upgrading will ensure safer communities, in line with our freedom charter prescripts that there shall be houses, security and comfort,’ Kubayi said.

The Minister has urged beneficiaries to pay their rental timeously and help maintain the long-term sustainability of the projects to a
void their collapse.

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

The Social Housing Regulatory Agency (SHRA), an entity of the Department of Human Settlements, partnered with Housing Company Tshwane (HCT) in the development of the social housing project.

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

The Minister commended the three spheres of government for collaborating with beneficiaries, contractors, and community leaders to be able to deliver the project.

‘Our focus will also be on an exit strategy for the tenant, as we don’t want them to remain tenants forever,’ she said.

Human Settlements 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 yea
r, the Department of Human Settlements spent R3.1billion as part of 40% set aside for women-owned companies contracted to build and help government to resolve the housing backlog,’ Tshwete said.

Over one million houses built in Gauteng since 1994

Meanwhile, Gauteng Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development MEC, Lebogang Maile, highlighted that the democratic government had done significant work since 1994 in providing shelter for vulnerable people.

He said that 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 and 1.2 million of those are in the economic hub of Gauteng, where the population has doubled, [due to those] in search of economic opportunities,’ Maile said.

Tshwane Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Human Settlements, Ofentse Madzabatela, said he was looking forward to the roll out of more projects by Human Settlements to d
eal with apartheid 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.

Source: South African Government News Agency