MEC Van Wyk has been unequivocal that a part of his new approach is to improve the qualities of houses built, so that government does not merely supply a house, but moves towards providing homes for people.
Speaking in Galeshewe: Kimberley he announced that his department is planning to deliver 3 300 houses this year. Of these houses, 470 will be delivered on newly identified projects whilst the balance has been allocated to currently running projects.
Van Wyk did not shy away from the fact that the housing demand and the allocation of R79, 917 million towards the housing programme for the 2005/06 financial year poses great challenges for the Department. But he also assured the public, that government was determined to ensure that it does its best, to meet these basic needs of the poor.
"The fact remains that we still have a long way to go before we can, in all honesty, say that we have brought about an enduring change in the lives of our people. We not only continue to acknowledge the challenges that we face but we are also sensitive to the fact that much more work still needs to be done to create a better life for our people," said Van Wyk.
In a frank and refreshingly honest assessment, van Wyk stated that there was a sizeable housing backlog that continues to increase, impatience and desperation from the poor and homeless; incomplete houses and housing projects; poor quality houses and most importantly, inadequate planning related to housing delivery.
Lessons learnt from the past approach to housing were that housing delivery took place in areas that had little if any access to employment opportunities, services and other physical and social infrastructure.
In the same breath, he added that his department was up for the challenge and is committed to introduce new interventions, that should ensure that housing the people of the Northern Cape, is not hampered. "We are now looking at developing strategies that are appropriate, realistic, affordable and suitable for the Northern Cape," said Van Wyk.
The Department will, furthermore, implement a new comprehensive housing plan in 2005/06. This plan will place great emphasis on the upgrading of informal settlements and of funding instruments in order to address the diversity of needs of people living in these areas. It will ensure integration and enable the building of secure communities. The pilot projects for the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme will commence in Lerato Park in Kimberley and Ouboks in Colesberg.
The new Social Housing Programme, and the National Housing will pay particular attention to poverty alleviation through social housing policy development; strengthening the support programme for social housing and the continued support through international co-operation and stronger institutional arrangements.
More building inspectors will be employed in the department, more emphasis will also be placed on capacity building at Municipal level to strengthen their inspection capacity and ensure capacity building at contractor level.
An initiative that we wish to build on in the Province is that local municipalities must act as developers for the construction of subsidized houses. This is not only in line with the Procurement Policy but will also enhance the involvement of municipalities in the housing process thus establishing room for joint ownership of the process for Provincial and Local Government.
The objective of my Department is to develop capacity in the province to help the community in building their own homes, drawing on a network of housing support centres for the provision of good quality affordable building materials and support, with the sole objective being the promotion of public/private partnerships.
"It should also not be forgotten that from 1994, government has managed to construct more than 30 000 houses, making it possible for every one in every six households to be provided with adequate shelter. It should also be noted that during this time 25 715 properties have been transferred to beneficiaries through the discount benefit scheme," the MEC concluded.