More than 20 years later and they still don’t have houses

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Cape Town – Maureen Vogel has been waiting for a house for more than 25 years.

The Bishop Lavis resident said she’s had to apply on three occasions because the housing department kept telling her they couldn’t find her record.

“I approached the housing department in Bishop Lavis in 1979, it was called the ‘White House’ at that stage. When I went back to make an inquiry in 1983 they told me the documentation was lost,” said Vogel.

She applied for the third time in 1993.

Councillor Malusi Booi, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements said: “Ms Vogel has turned down an offer by the City to be accommodated in the Valhalla Park Breaking New Ground housing project, which is currently under way. Ms Vogel is within her rights to do so, however, this will mean that she will have to wait until she is considered for another housing opportunity in future projects or for rental housing opportunity.”

Vogel said it was never communicated to her that she was given a house. She found out about the proposed opportunity long after it came when she went to inquire because she wasn’t getting a response.

“They never contacted me, they never sent an email or messages. I found out about that myself. If I hadn’t found it I would have never known until this day,” she said.

Booi said the City’s Human Settlements Directorate as well as the mayor have liaised with Ms Vogel regarding her concerns, which have been investigated. 

“The City has found no compelling evidence that Ms Vogel had an earlier application.”

Vogel said a man with the surname “Goodwin” from the housing database department in Bellville has negligently dealt with her application. She said she’s reached out to mayor Dan Plato who promised her he would look into it but never did.

She said no one was held accountable for these issues and it continues to affect her and her health.

Brett Herron, who was the mayco member responsible for new public housing for “about 18 months in 2017/18”, said: “The housing demand database was not informing where housing was being developed nor what type of housing was being developed because the database was not being used as a strategic informant for prioritising new housing projects people like these were being disadvantaged.

“For example, there are over 2000 people on the database in the Kensington/Maitland area – many waiting for decades – yet there was no planned housing project,” said Herron.

Vogel decided that she will assist others in a similar situation and who have been waiting since the 90s and early 2000s. She is a community leader and the chairperson of Shining Stars Organisation. 

Stephen Pearson, who works with Vogel, said: “I went to apply in Ravensmead around 1997 and nothing. In 2003, I reapplied and today I still don’t have a house. I need a place desperately, I’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer and my wife has lifelong health issues,” said Pearson.

Stephen Pearson Picture: Supplied

Booi replied: “Mr Pearson registered with the Housing Database on 3 September 2003. This is the only record of him on the Housing Database. Mr Pearson previously claimed he had a 1998 application date but he was unable to provide the City with the evidence to substantiate this claim.”

Booi said applicants decline housing opportunities for different reasons such as they want to live in specific areas or they are interested in a specific unit types. “For example, a two-bedroom unit versus a one-bedroom unit or a ground floor unit versus upper floors, etc.”

Booi said the applicant remains on the Housing Database and it’s branch is informed of this decision. The applicant retains their original application date. 

“This, however, will mean that the applicant will have to wait until he/she is considered for another housing opportunity in future projects or for rental housing opportunity.”

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