Cape Town’s housing prices have spiralled out of control, making the city almost unliveable for the city’s middle class. In fact, the South African capital ranks third after Shanghai and Vancouver as the city in the world with the highest housing prices. Earlier this week, Cape Town’s city authority decided to dedicate 11 sites to affordable, social and transitional housing initiatives. These sites include Woodstock, Salt River and the inner city, less than five kilometers (almost three miles) away from the Cape Town central business district.
Cape Town is also partnering up with the private sector to work on five sites, including New Market Street, Drury Street, Woodstock Hospital Park, Woodstock Hospital Site, and Pickwick Street. The goal is to combat the tolls created by apartheid spatial planning, forced removals and gentrification, all of which have come at a high cost to poor and middle income people in the cities, with residents spending as much as 40 percent of their salaries on their daily commutes in and out of rich-controlled areas.
After doing research on social housing in Cape Town, Jared Rossouw from Ndifuna Ukwazi, a research center that provides legal, research and organizing support to communities in struggles for urban land justice, affordable housing and tenure security, found that the prices are increasing with as much as 16 percent in Cape Town and 22 percent in the Atlantic Seaboard. This means that people in the middle-class and working-class can’t afford to stay in the city or in areas such as Woodstock and Salt River. “These areas are being targeted by developers. This leads to people being priced out and displaced. It is unjust to move people to areas such as Wolwerivier,” he said.
The average salary in the South African capital is around $15,000 per year. Subsidized rental units will be available for households earning less than $1,135.6 a month, while gap rental housing will be available for those earning between $264.9 and $1,514.
The housing crisis is a global one. Thousands of miles north, in Dubuque, an industrial city in northeastern Iowa, a housing campaign was launched to promote home ownership and development. Last month, the city (home to around 57,000 people) announced plans to pump a total of $19 million through 2021 to improve 739 housing units; so far, they have spent $2.3 million to improve 89 units. Around $4 million will be dedicated to the purchase, rehabilitation and resale of abandoned and dilapidated homes and rental structures, providing 100 affordable housing units in Dubuque’s vibrant center. The city wants to diversify housing — mixing socioeconomic classes together — as well as rehabilitate blighted properties and increase affordable housing while promoting private reinvestment all at the same time.