In its very nature land is at a premium in the ever-growing Hermanus and as the pockets of land that become available for development dwindle, so do prices reach higher levels.

Currently in most suburbs of the town there are very few properties available under R1 million, placing pressure on rental properties that in many instances have become too expensive for many local employees to afford. The continuous increase in not only land prices but also building costs have a detrimental effect on the ability of government to supply housing.

In the Overstrand there are 9 low-cost housing projects, 10 restructuring zones in 5 suburbs for social housing (rental property) and 4 affordable housing projects in 4 different suburbs. This equates to the delivery between 2015 and 2019 of 5 692 housing opportunities. In Zwelihle alone between October 2017 and September 2021 it is estimated that 838 housing opportunities will be delivered.

But, says the Municipality’s Stephen Müller, there are close on 7 600 applicants on the housing waiting list. “It’s a simple question of the pace of delivery and dwindling financial resources that creates one of the largest stumbling blocks. It is important to remember that the Municipality is merely an agent for the delivery of housing on behalf of the provincial and national governments.

“Within the constraints that are placed on us, we are trying our utmost do keep up with delivery of both housing opportunities and access to services. The minimum standard for services is 1 toilet to every 5 houses and 1 waterpoint for every 20 houses. In the Overstrand we are aiming to provide every household with at least one toilet, a waterpoint and an electricity connection,” says Stephen.

In a 2017 report by social research company Soreaso, titled A study into the needs and demand of affordable housing in the Overstrand Municipality, authors Ilse Eigelaar-Meets, Cornie Groenewald, and Wynand Louw made startling findings with regards to housing delivery in the area.

According to the report the findings strongly suggest that the current housing delivery policy is setting economic and socially vulnerable households up for failure. The current policy’s real impact is counter intuitive to the philosophy of the Government’s Breaking New Ground policy which states that successful housing programmes should be part and parcel of creating an environment conducive for the development of sustainable human settlements.

“A re-engineering (of the existing policy) should contain a stronger focus on rental stock for the lowest-income households where rent is determined on a scale based on household income. Investing in the upgrade of backyard structures should be considered as a cost and time effective approach that will result in the provision of decent housing to a large group of beneficiaries in a shorter timeframe and possibly at a lower cost than would be the case when following the traditional brick and mortar model.

“Given the growing pressure on available land for housing (particularly in the Kleinmond area) the present approach of protecting fynbos at all cost should be revisited. It is important to face realities and manage it rather than to see unmanaged gradual ex-pansion and occupation of ecological sensitive flora on urban edges,” states the report.

Startling statistics:

Some of the findings of the report are that in townships the average household is of modest size, with 57% comprising three or fewer members. Some 20% of households comprise one person only, which is explained by the strong in-migration of single persons from especially the Eastern Cape, while 25% of households consist of five or more members.

Thirty-one percent of household members are in full-time employment with 23% employed part-time. Nearly 17% of household members are unemployed. Generally, the income levels of those employed are disconcertingly low, with 70% of households earning R3 500 per month or less. In Gansbaai this figure is 81% and in Stanford 79%. Nearly half of the households that were surveyed were not in a position to meet their monthly financial obligations, reporting a mean shortage of R1 020 per month.

“So too are educational levels depressingly low with only 22% of household heads having achieved matric,” states the report.

The report also found that township residents are generally ill informed about the settlement planning and policies of the Municipality. “Respondents described communication channels as ineffective and non-transparent making them feel marginalised and disempowered in matters relating to housing policy, planning and programmes. Strong dissatisfaction regarding the management and implementation of the Municipal waiting list for housing allocations was expressed. Its perceived lack of fairness and transparency is linked to an apparent allocation policy favouring certain income categories and family compositions.”

According to the report 41% of the households included in the survey lived in a one-roomed dwelling with the majority (85%) of these dwellings in backyards and informal areas. Sixty percent of these dwellings accommodated between two and three generation households, suggesting that a significant percentage of children share a single room with their parents or other family members.

The report did find that it was encouraging to note that the majority of households have access to Municipal services, although backyard dwellers have limited access as this is controlled by the occupants of the main house.

A separate report by the University of Stellenbosch found that 48,3% of the residents in Greater Hermanus are black, and this number grows at a rate of 5,8% annually.

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