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HOUSING PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 September 2007
SOCIAL HOUSING BILL [B29-2007]; RENTAL HOUSING AMENDMENT BILL [B30-2007]: PUBLIC HEARINGS
Chairperson: Ms Z Kota (ANC)
Documents Handed Out:
National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO) submission on Social Housing Bill
Social Housing Foundation submission on Social Housing Bill
Cape Town Association for Physically Disabled submission on Rental Housing Amendment Bill
City of Johannesburg submission on Social Housing Bill
Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled submission
Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC) submission on Social Housing Bill
Standard Bank submission on Social Housing Bill
Audio recording of meeting
The Housing Portfolio Committee received public submissions on the Social Housing Bill (B29-2007) and Rental Housing Amendment Bill (B30-2007). The National Association of Social Housing Organisations submitted that the Bill should better spell out the balance between regulation and compliance, and support and establishment. Problems were highlighted with the definitions in Clause 1. Clause 2 should be amplified as National Government should be responsible for developing the capacity of provincial government. Amendments were required for clause 3(1)f and clause 5(c). The Bill should open the door for the cost of municipal services to be discounted by municipalities for social housing investment. Clause 9 should be enhanced and Council should include people with practical knowledge of the implementation challenges. A number of proposals were suggested to clause 11, and much of what was in this and clause 12 should rather be in regulations. Clause 13 should clarify the functions and management of the social housing institutions. Due diligence should be conducted prior to releasing funding. Amendments were further proposed to clause 14, 16, 8 and 19. Questions by Members addressed the role of entrepreneurs, engagement with the National Department of Housing, the cost of monitoring municipal services and the composition of the Association.
The Social Housing Foundation gave a brief history of the Social Housing Foundation and discussed its response to the policy adopted in 2005. The broad outlines of the Bill were explained and the role of the Foundation was clarified; it was seen as implementing agent in the phasing-in period. The budget was currently R107 million and would rise to R250 million in 2008/09. It was given the mandate to manage the European Union (EU) sponsored programme and tools and management were provided. The functions outlined in the Bill were defined. The National Department was to consider issues relating to policy, strategy (new rental strategy), legal affairs and the programme. Members asked for clarity on the phasing in, and asked the roles of institutions external to the Regulatory Authority.
Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled outlined the difficulties of the physically disabled in the housing sector, and called for ground floor housing to be allocated to the physically disabled, to enable such people to move about freely and become economically and socially active. Hazards and problem areas must be considered and removed and there should be increased access for disabled visitors. There was a dire need for proper housing in informal areas, where lack of pavements and adequate toilets were a huge problem, and long waiting lists were exacerbating the problem. The Association called for greater recognition to be given to supporting letters from medical professionals, and priority for the disabled in allocations. Questions by Members addressed the numbers of disabled people who could join ward committees.
National Association of Social Housing Organisations (NASHO): Submissions,
Mr Joel Mkunqwana, President, NASHO introduced his delegation as Mr Rory Gallocher, Gauteng Regional Chairperson, and Mr Renier Erasmus, Vice President of NASHO.
Mr Rory Gallocher, Gauteng Regional Chairperson, NASHO, stated that NASHO welcomed the initiative, through the Social Housing Bill, to establish a legal framework to ensure a viable and sustainable housing sector, which would also contribute to the overall functioning of the housing sector. The Bill should, however, better spell out the balance between regulation and compliance, and support and establishment. At present there was too little attention to the latter two aspects.
Mr Gallocher raised numerous problems with the definitions provided by Clause 1 of the Bill, in relation to approved projects, maladministration, The Municipal Finance Management Act, Social Housing, social housing institutions and the Social Housing regulatory plan. Definitions of different funding mechanisms should be added to the Bill.
In Chapter two, Mr Gallocher had minor concerns with the roles and responsibilities of national and provincial government. He suggested that National Government should be responsible for developing the capacity of provincial government. Amendments were required for clause 3(1)f and clause 5(c). In respect of 5(c) the Bill should open the door for the cost of municipal services to be discounted by municipalities for social housing investment. Government had claimed it would support this but so far it had not been implemented through any other regulatory framework.
Clause 9 of the Bill should be enhanced, and it was stressed that the Council must comprise people with practical knowledge of the operational challenges. One nominee should be included from NASHO. Chapter 11 (3)(a) was supported, but it should be made less restrictive. Clause 11(3)(c) should include contracts with other delivery agents, which should be open to public inspection, clause 11(3)(e) should specify annual monitoring, and the use of language needed to be tightened in clause 11(3)(f). A minor amendment was suggested to clause 11(3)(g), it was proposed that clause 11(3)j should be removed altogether, and clause 11(3)k should also be removed. Mr Gallocher said that much of what was contained in Clause 11 should not be in the Bill, but in the regulations.
Mr Gallocher raised issues that surrounded the powers of intervention of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) and recommended that some clauses be amended. There was some concern that SHRA was assuming a power of intervention appropriate to that of a major funder, although it would not be a major funder. In clause 12, the proposal was again that a great deal should be dealt with in regulations, rather than in the Bill.
Chapter 4 dealt with accreditation of social housing institutions. It was proposed that superfluous wording be removed from clause 13(5). The functions and management of the social housing institutions should be clarified. There should be an onus to conduct the due diligence prior to releasing any form of funding. Joint service delivery agreements should be entered into. It was proposed that clause 14(1)(k) and (l), as well as 14(3)(a) be removed.
Mr Gallocher then raised the management of social housing institutions. Proposals were made to tighten clause 15. Clause 16 should be clarified so that references to the Promotion of Access to Information Act were removed, and the Regulator must obtain written consent from the institution to release information,. Clause 18 and 19 were covered in the written presentation but due to shortage of time were not discussed
The Chairperson asked NASHO whether all the issues mentioned in the presentation had been taken up with the National Department of Housing.
Mr Gallocher replied that NASHO had consulted with the National Department of Housing and the presentation was based on some research and information from that Department.
Ms N Ngele (ANC) asked what the role of young upcoming entrepreneurs was in the housing sector.
Mr A Steyn (DA) then enquired what the cost of monitoring municipal services was.
Mr Gallocher stipulated that municipalities would have to have a closer relationship with service delivery. He also mentioned that members of NASHO had a problem with complying with two different types of legislation, as the cost of compliance and monitoring was high.
Mr Mkunqwana added that many emerging entrepreneurs were already a part of NASHO and that NASHO would welcome other credible budding entrepreneurs with open arms.
The Chairperson then asked what institutions NASHO had under its umbrella.
Mr Mkunqwana replied that there were 18 members
Social Housing Foundation: Submission
Mr Brian Moholo, Managing Director, Social Housing Foundation, gave a brief history of the Social Housing Foundation (SHF) and then moved on to discuss the SHFs response to the policy adopted in 2005. SHF was given the mandate to manage the European Union (EU) sponsored programme and tools and management were provided. A think-tank was formed, together with the National Department of Housing (NDOH) and the result was the Bill. Parts of it were incorporated already in the "Breaking New Ground" strategy of 2004. IN the meantime the interim social housing programme was running, with a budget of R107 million in 2006/07, rising to R250 million in 2008/09. Mr Moholo then informed the committee that there would be a phasing in approach. The functions outlined in the Bill were defined, and the phased in approach contemplated NDOH as sponsor, SHF as implementing agent and SHRA as the fledgling entity.
Mr Moholo then concluded his presentation by mentioning that the National Department of Housing was responsible for policy, strategy and funding of social housing and therefore they should consider the issues that relate to policy, strategy (new rental strategy), legal affairs and the programme.
Mr Steyn asked for clarity on the issue of the phasing out of the SHF, and asked what roles did institutions that were external to SHRA (Social Housing Regulatory Authority) play.
Mr Moholo replied that it was a sensitive issue, and that it was the responsibility of the National Department of Housing to decide, between the SHRA or the SHF, who the regulatory authority was.
Ms N Ngele then asked what sector would be governed by the Public Finance Management Act.
Mr Saths Moodley, Special advisor to the Minister of Housing, pointed out that the issue of referee and players was clear. He mentioned that governance issues were set out in the governing laws. He then raised a second point, which the role of NASHO was to be a trade union amongst the Social Housing sector.
Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled: Submission
Ms M Damon, Chief Social Worker, CTAPD, began with a brief history of CTAPD, mentioning that it covered the whole of the Cape Flats and rendered specialised social work to disabled people.
Ms Damon stated that their was a great need for the National Department of Housing to be considerate of people living with physical disabilities, as there was a great need for ground floor housing as disabled people struggled to manage with higher-level housing. They were prevented by their disability and the problems of access from becoming active in community activities or employment. Not only should houses for disabled people be accessible but all current Social Housing should be constructed to be hazard or problem free for disabled people. Universal accessibility was a key issue. Her third point was that there was a dire need for adequate housing for disabled people in informal settlements, where they were presently living in conditions unbecoming to dignified human beings. Long waiting lists, sometimes of up to 20 years, were exacerbating the problems, despite supporting letters written by medical professionals. She urged that people with disabilities must be catered for, and they could become active members of society if given the opportunity to do so.
Ms Damon then introduced the committee to Ms F Ndoni, who presented first hand the challenges that she encountered as a disabled person. These included lack of paving in front of houses in informal settlements and the inadequate toilet facilities for disabled people.
Ms Damon then suggested a few solutions. She acknowledged that the construction of flats for Social Housing was decided policy. She urged that all people with disabilities be placed on the ground floor, whilst able-bodied people should be moved to second or third floors. Provision should be made to accommodate disabled visitors. The Committee and National Department of Housing should take cognisance of the medical validation of the needs of persons with disabilities.
Mr D C Mabena (ANC) asked how many disabled persons were there per ward around the Cape Flats, so that Government could act and locate these people.
Ms Damon replied that there were about fifteen people across wards that were keen to join the ward committees.
Mr Mabena mentioned that people who lived with disabilities should be prioritised and the construction of their houses should occur first.
The Chairperson said that the proposal by the Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled was much broader than just providing adequate housing for disabled people. Universal access should be provided every unit the National Department of Housing and its partners built.
The Chairperson announced that the National Housing Finance Corporation had experienced flight delays, and their presentation would be moved to another date.
The meeting was adjourned.
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