Excited Westgate tenants meet President at housing launch

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Pietermaritzburg - Nomkhosi Msimang is one of the few tenants at the Westgate Grange Social Housing Site who got a change to meet President Jacob Zuma.

Dressed in a striking multi-coloured dress, the 30-year-old was overjoyed at meeting President Zuma, who visited her unit at the housing site known as Aloe Ridge, in Pietermarizburg.

“I’m happy and excited that the President Zuma came to meet us. It is exciting and I feel wonderful,” she said of President Zuma’s visit on Saturday.

This, as the President launched the country’s biggest social housing project located in White Road, Westgate.

The project is the biggest in the country comprising of 952 housing units that offer rental accommodation.

Msimang’s unit is one of the two units visited by the President and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as well as several KwaZulu-Natal MECs.

Known as Aloe Ridge, the rental accommodation will address the critical rental needs within the Msunduzi Muncipality.

Prior to visiting Msimang, President Zuma also cut a ribbon at the housing unit belonging to Kirsten Donnelly who said she is proud of her new home.

“I feel good living here, especially for a person with my salary bracket, it isn’t easy to rent on my own. The place is beautiful and security is on par,” said Donnelly.

The unit is made up of two bedroom units each with an open plan kitchen, living area and a bathroom.

It is aimed at providing decent accommodation for people earning between R1500 and R7500.

At the launch MEC for Public Works and Human Settlements, Ravi Pillay, stressed that the units were for rental purposes only.

“They are rental for life. They are not rent to own,” he said of the facility.

Community engagement

Following his tour of Aloe Ridge, at which he also unveiled a plaque, President Zuma addressed a community engagement session at a packed marquee at Imbali Stage 1 Sports Field, in Imbali Township.

He said government will not rest until each and every South African citizen has a decent roof over their heads as part of its resolve to restore the dignity of people through human settlements.

“We are a government that will never rest until every South African citizen lives in a decent shelter. Our resolve is to restore the dignity of our people through human settlements,” said President Zuma.

“On completion it will deliver close to 1000 housing units accommodating close to 4000 beneficiaries. Projects such as Westgate Social Housing provide tangible proof that we are a country where people and children from all racial and cultural backgrounds can live and play together.”
 
He also expressed satisfaction that the project has a strong local bias with Msunduzi Housing Association (MHA) as the developer.

“This is a clear expression of our stated commitment to advance radical socio-economic transformation.”

He added that government continues to prioritise housing delivery for indigents. These include child headed households, the physically disabled and elderly citizens.
 
President Zuma said having decent shelter presents a number of social and economic benefits including an improved quality of life, as well as personal and private space, among others.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has built close to 500 000 units since 1994.
 
“This translates to close to two million beneficiaries whose lives have changed for the better by this government.”

Migrating from rural to urban areas

The issue of people migrating from rural to urban areas in search of better economic prospects was also highlighted by the President, who said this tended to put government under immense pressure to provide housing with the requisite infrastructure at an unprecedented rate.

The spiralling costs of building a house and lack of resources to meet this rapidly rising demand compels government to relook at its housing priorities to address the demands of rapid urbanisation.   

This includes establishment of integrated catalytic projects across the country which will see the delivery of not less than 10 000 houses per project, providing houses for military veterans, the indigent, elderly or senior citizens, child-headed households, and people with disabilities.

Financial Linked Individually Subsidy Programme

There are different options available for younger people such as the social housing/rental programme and Financial Linked Individually Subsidy Programme (FLISP).
 
“These options are meant for people who earn too much to quality for a fully subsidised government house and earn little to qualify for a bonded house. Then there is government assisted employee housing for civil servants, which the government hopes that other big employers will follow with employer-assisted housing.”

The President called on young working people to consider making use of FLISP programme to buy themselves houses.
 
FLISP was developed to enable sustainable and affordable first time home-ownership opportunities to South African citizens earning between R3 501 and R15 000 per month. – SAnews.gov.za

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