Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale is hoping to address the housing backlog by claiming back old dilapidated buildings and making them habitable.
“People keep on saying that we need land to address the housing backlog,” Sexwale said on Tuesday at the launch of a block of flats in the Johannesburg CBD.
“But we have these old dilapidated buildings that we can refurbish and put our people there,” he said.
During the launch of the Cavendish Chambers, he said the project would be used as a prototype to address the issue of housing in the country.
The building was originally built in 1950 and became vacant in the early 1990s.
The building was hijacked and later reclaimed by the government and refurbished to house people who earn low incomes.
“The city is coming back … cities never die,” he said.
Sexwale said that during his tenure as premier of Gauteng he was pained to see the demise of Johannesburg’s inner city.
However, he said it was because of the private-public partnership that the city was becoming the Johannesburg that it used to be.
“Cities like Paris, New York and London, their inner-city also went down so this is not a unique South African situation.”
He said about 2 500 informal settlements in the country were indicative of the challenge that the government was facing in providing its people with decent houses.
He said close partnerships between business, the government and communities were needed in order to address the housing crisis.
“Why worry about when we will get space to build houses if we can find these old buildings, rejuvenate them and provide housing for our people.”
He also warned people who hijacked buildings, saying that his department was currently in talks with police and the Hawks about enforcing evictions and stopping the trend of building hijacking. — Sapa