Government looks at alternative ways to address housing backlog

Kelly Arendse, project manager.

In a quest to identify and test innovative solutions to the province’s housing problems, the provincial Human Settlements Department hosted a joint workshop with Better Living Challenge and the Cape Craft and Design Institute.

Held in Nyanga, at the Nyanga Arts Development Centre, from Tuesday May 2 until Saturday May 13, the Design/Build Workshop formed part of the department’s Better Living Challenge project.

The project is the provincial government’s 110% green initiative. It is focused on making the green economy work for the poor. It promotes the development of sustainable housing solutions for shack dwellers and backyarders.

The project looks at various initiatives to support the upgrading of informal settlements.

Various subjects formed part of the discussion to explore innovative solutions, with architects, students, builders and design enthusiasts taking part in the workshop.

According to the department, over the next 24 months the project would explore various innovative solutions to develop tool-kits for testing ideas and support required to implement various solutions.

The meeting provided the public with an opportunity to engage with and learn from Artspace, a national non-profit organisation based in Minneapolis, in America, that specialises in creating, owning and operating affordable housing and studio or business space for artists and creative sector companies.

Project manager Kelly Arendse said they wanted to find solutions to the current housing challenges.

“But mostly we look at how to assist in low income communities. We look at the material used. We also look at how can we assist people and organisations,” she said.

Ms Arendse said the meeting gave the public with an opportunity to engage with creative and knowledgeable people on housing.

Nathan Adriaanse, head of communications for the provincial department of Human Settlements said through the project they sought to establish mechanisms and platforms to exchange knowledge which would help them improve living conditions in informal settlements.

“Through the initiatives, the department will identify and test innovative solutions, enhance existing projects, and fast-track innovation through partnerships and co-creation with community members and relevant stakeholders.

“Within the broader context, it is envisioned that this project will support the work of the department’s Informal Settlement Support Plan, which also focuses on the empowerment of households, communities and community support organisations, and builders, tradespeople to incrementally improve and expand housing opportunity,” said Mr Adriaanse.

He said the project would be rolled out to various communities across the Western Cape.