Media: Houses standing empty as bank admits some N2 Gateway units are difficult to sell

24 11 2009

November 23, 2009 Edition 1
Quinton Mtyala – Cape Times

MONTHS after being completed, gap houses which form part of the N2 Gateway in Langa remain unsold as the bank financing the project admits affordability is a factor.
First National Bank spokesperson Busi Mngomezulu said some of the units priced at just under R600 000 had been hard to sell.

All 43 units at the show village are empty although Mngomezulu said 33 had been sold to approved buyers.

The bank had initially planned to build 300 units at the N2 Gateway even as critics claimed houses there would never be affordable to families who had previously lived at the Joe Slovo informal settlement, despite claims to the contrary from Thubelisha Homes and previous housing officials.

Further development at the site has been delayed by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s halting of all planned evictions of remaining shack dwellers in the area.

The first residents are expected to move into the area in January.

Mngomezulu said the delay was due to the bank’s awaiting the opening of the sectional title register.

Most of the units sold had been priced below R350 000, the cheapest at R’ 000.

To buy the remaining units, prospective owners have to earn between R11 700 and R20 000 a month as either part of a single or joint income, be creditworthy and have enough money left at the end of the month for living expenses.

One prominent critic of the housing project and the government’s handling of the Joe Slovo evictions and subsequent plans for the site, Emeritus Professor Martin Legassick, said people living there had been opposed to the development of gap houses.

“They should be knocked down and in their stead BNG (breaking new ground) houses would have to be built. They were built illegally while court action was under way to determine the legality of the N2 Gateway development.”

Admitting demolition would be extreme, Legassick said empty gap houses could be converted into medium-density units.

Meanwhile the chairman of the Joe Slovo Task Team, Sifiso Mapasa, said not a single family from the informal settlement, moved to make way for the N2 Gateway, had been accommodated at newly completed BNG houses.

“It was supposed to be a 70/30 split (the lesser coming from Joe Slovo) but the Housing Development Agency is repeating bad practices from the first phase of the N2 Gateway,” said Mapasa.

quinton.mtyala@inl.co.za

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