The long wait for houses is over

NABEELAH MOHEDEEN

A 62-year-old man who once had to sleep in an outside toilet for two weeks is among 30 families who have received keys to their homes in Heideveld after decades of waiting.

Louis Solomons told how in the late 1980s he would have to get up in the middle of the night and wait outside if someone needed to use the toilet at his brother’s Bishop Lavis home.

In 1980, Mr Solomons, who first applied for a house in 1978, moved to Mitchell’s Plain, where he shared a room. Two years later he moved back to Bishop Lavis and shared a house. In 2005, he moved into Wesbank home he has been renting ever since. Now, almost four decades since he first applied for a house, he finally has the keys to his own place.

“I feel very good. After 38 years, I finally received my home. I was sleeping at my brother’s place where I slept in the toilet which was outside of the house, so when they needed to use the toilet at night, I would have to get up and wait outside until they’re done. I have lived in Mitchell’s Plain and all over the Western Cape. I am the happiest person here today. My dream has become a reality,” said Mr Solomons.

At the hand-over last Tuesday, mayor Patricia de Lille said the new homes, which are next to the N2 (Jakes Gerwel Drive) and painted with a colourful bright stripe, reminded her of District Six.

The R105 million project will see 708 more two-bedroom homes, handed over to families by July 2017.

The new homeowners have all been on the council’s waiting list for more than 30 years.

Ms De Lille and Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements, handed over the homes, which will connect residents from Heideveld, Bonteheuwel, Vanguard Estate, Welcome Estate, and Gugulethu.

“We are putting together a whole new community. You might not know each other, but you will get to know each other,” said Ms De Lille.

“Put your foot down, as a community, to criminal activity. If we find out that one of you is involved with criminal activity, we will put you out. Drugs and alcohol are destroying our communities. We live as if it is normal to sell drugs two doors away from us. It is not normal.”

She said the houses had been built with economy in mind – the ceilings are insulated to keep the homes cool in summer and warm in winter to save on electricity costs.

“Today you have your own address, where we can send your post to, and your traffic fines,” Ms De Lille joked. “Use this opportunity as a new beginning. We will hand over more houses as soon as more are completed.”

She said the project had also created job opportunities for the community.

Douglas Solomons, 58, no relation to Louis Solomons, had been living in a backyard in Manenberg. He finally received his home after 36 years.

“I am very excited, I am finally settling with a home after so many years. I want to thank the mayor and her team for allowing us to have our own home.

“We can finally settle down, and our kids can settle down as well with no more moving around,” said Mr Solomons.

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