Residents of New Woodlands backyarders and Kosovo informal Settlement who have been on the housing waiting list for decades will soon get verification as to whether they are beneficiaries of a R212 million housing project.

Chairperson of the New Woodlands Residents Association Shahien Van Nelson said it’s a small victory for the community who have been in ongoing engagement with officials, amid concerns that the residents would be excluded from the project meant to accommodate Kosovo residents in Philippi.

“It has been a long and difficult journey for us. We have been attending endless negotiation meetings. Initially we were offered an 80/20 split, which meant we would get 20 percent of the house and Kosovo residents’ 80 percent but after all the effort we put in we were finally offered a 50/50 split,” he said.

Contractors are due to break ground at Erf 694, in Walter Battis Road, New Woodlands, in June or July this year, following site clearance and further securing of the site. Residents are due to move into the units next year.

The New Woodlands Integrated Residential Development Programme (IRDP) housing project, which will yield 440 breaking new ground (BNG) housing opportunities, has been in the planning stages for many years and will benefit qualifying residents from New Woodlands and Kosovo communities.

Van Neilson said the victory has not been entirely well received, however the agreement has been fair.

“We have received flak from various residents and community members saying it is unfair to have residents from the outside get access to houses when many people within the community of Woodlands are on a waiting list,” he stated.

“The process has not been unfair at all. We considered residents who has been on waiting lists from both sides. All those who will benefit from the housing project are residents on the waiting list for many years.

“What is important is for Woodlands residents to acknowledge and understand that everyone is entitled to houses, regardless of where they come from, the housing plan can’t simply benefit only existing residents within Woodlands.”

Guests at the project launch included Premier Helen Zille, Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi, Ward 75 councillor Joan Woodman and New Woodlands Ratepayers’ Association chairman Shahien van Nelson.

Booi said the City had set aside some R5 million of additional funds in the new financial year to assist with services for this project.

“These large-scale catalytic projects are absolutely in line with efforts to bring redress through the delivery of housing opportunities but also to provide tangible solutions to the great need for subsidised accommodation which has been brought on by rapid urbanisation,” he said. VOC

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