300 000 Joburg housing backlog
Written by Mmakgomo Tshetlo (Radio702)
This article and podcast were originally posted on talk radio station 702’s website, on 3 October 2017: ‘300 000 Joburg housing backlog‘.
Herman Mashaba, Johannesburg’s Democratic Alliance mayor elected last year, has inherited a city with a chronic lack of low-cost affordable housing, emergency accommodation, and rapacious inequality writes Wits social anthropologist Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, and now faces a possible motion of no confidence.
Wilhelm-Solomon and Thabo Maisela, the mayor of Johannesburg’s special advisor for priority projects, held an in-depth discussion on the housing crisis in Johannesburg with host Eusebius McKaiser.
The housing issues in Johannesburg cannot be addressed without considering the racialised history of apartheid, says Wilhelm-Solomon. He adds that the history of Johannesburg has always been bound up with regional histories of migration and exclusion of the black working class having a right to the city.
In cities throughout the world, you’ll find the continued displacement of poor urban residents by capital developments and through gentrification.
— Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, Social Anthropology Lecturer at WITS & associate researcher on the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa
Wilhelm-Solomon believes the term ‘hijacked buildings’ is misleading and rather terms them ‘occupations of informal local and foreign national workers who cannot afford formal housing markets’.
The issue of foreign nationals is not the fundamental problem in the housing backlog crisis, but the lack of provision of housing for poor urban black populations.
— Dr. Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon, Social Anthropology lecturer at WITS, and associate researcher on the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa
Maisela explains that sometimes hijacked buildings are properties that have been abandoned by the owner. Other times, an owner is available but is not in control of the property and it falls under someone else’s administration.
In terms of our housing waiting list, we have over 150 000 people on that list and our housing backlog is over 300 000.
— Thabo Maisela, the mayor of Johannesburg’s special advisor for priority projects
Maisela says as part of the City’s measures to combat the hijacking of buildings, it also plans to address the housing shortages.
‘What we are trying to do is densify the inner city so that we move away from the spatial, apartheid development legacy and bring people closer to where economic opportunities lie’, he says.
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