Heideveld mother speaks out about housing woes

Allison Brown earns R400 more than what is stipulated to qualify for a housing subsidy.

Allison Brown, a single mother of two from Heideveld, finds herself in a desperate situation for housing.

Like thousands of others, Ms Brown earns too much to qualify for subsidised housing, and too little to afford market-related rent.

The national policy of the Department of Human Settlements states that only people who earn up to R3 500 a month qualify for a government housing subsidy. Ms Brown earns a mere R400 more.

She said she initially applied to be on the housing waiting list in 1985, but when she went to check on her status a few years ago, City of Cape Town officials could find no record of this.

“After my divorce, I lost everything, and was forced to move back to my mother. When I went to enquire about the waiting list I thought I was on, I was told I’d have to reapply, because they could not find any records. That was seven years ago. So officially I’ve only been on the waiting list for seven years.

“My mother lived in a flat, and she’s getting old, and therefore she asked for a transfer to a cottage, which she got. Now with her moving, I have to be out of the flat as well. The problem is, she’s moving to a one-bedroomed cottage, from a two-bedroomed flat. My mother shared the flat with me and my two children, as well as my two brothers. Moving to the cottage means there will be no space for me and my children,” Ms Brown said.

She asked the City whether she could stay on in the flat, and continue to pay the rent, like many others have done. However, Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said that would not be possible.

“The tenant, Queenie Solomons, was offered a transfer to a cottage.

“In order to take up this offer, she had to confirm in writing that she is giving the City vacant occupation of the premises in Betsy Court, Heideveld (which she has done).

“Unfortunately her daughter, Ms Brown, and her children will also have to vacate.

“When a tenant is offered another housing opportunity, then all occupants at the premises, including sub-tenants, boarders and occupants of backyard structures, must vacate when the tenant does,” Ms Van Minnen said.

Ms Brown said a local housing official told her that she would not be able to erect a wendy house in the cottage’s backyard, but Ms Van Minnen said that might be possible.

Said Ms Van Minnen: “In terms of the interim procedures for the erection of informal structures in the backyards of the City’s rental stock for residential and non-residential purposes, the tenant has to submit her request in writing and attach a sketch of the proposed structure, for the City’s consideration.

“This request must be submitted to the Heideveld housing office where she will be further advised on the matter,” she explained.