City of Harare is reportedly struggling to find suitable candidates to fill up the 985 houses that have been finished so far in Budiriro. The finished houses are the first phase under a partnership between council and CABS that will see a total of 3,102 houses constructed.
According to council’s corporate communications division, out of 3,000 applications that were received from aspiring home seekers, only 440 have been successful. A close source at Town House revealed that many home seekers failed to meet the required deposit.
“It is true that council is struggling to fill up the finished houses because of the high deposit being charged. The $6,000 that is required as deposit is too high for many people considering the current economic hardships,” said the source.
The houses which are being built with the aim of providing affordable housing are said to cost $12,000 and home seekers are required to pay a deposit of $6,000. However, this is proving to be a tall order for many people already struggling to make ends meet.
Councillors have also voiced their concerns over the high deposit fee, arguing that the scheme was no longer for the poor who were the target beneficiaries. CABS was awarded the land on subsidised rates as the project was supposed to benefit those most in need.
In the 1,834th full council meeting held at Town House in May councillors then resolved that the Mayor and town clerk should renegotiate the deal with CABS so that it benefited low income members of society. However, a report back to council is yet to be made.
The source said that council was finding itself in a difficult position as it was under pressure from residents to review the fee.
“It is hard for the financial institution to review the deposit because they have already made their projections, on the other hand residents and government are clamouring for affordable housing, so I think City Fathers are caught up in a tricky situation,” added the source.
Harare’s housing backlog is currently estimated at 500,000 and the demand for affordable houses continues to rise. Residents have also raised their concerns. Precious Shumba, director of Harare Residents Trust, said that the deposit was beyond the reach of many.
“It is (the $6,000 deposit) beyond the reach of the poor majority. The houses were built for the poor and CABS got that land for free from the City of Harare as part of housing delivery,” said Shumba.
However, when contacted for comment on the progress of renegotiating for a downward review of the deposit, his Worship the Mayor of Harare Bernard Manyenyeni said there was nothing happening yet.
“There are no negotiations yet as the current demand for houses is high. Councillors still want to discuss a genuinely pro-poor deal with the next phase. I have met with CABS and we will be discussing again,” said Mayor Manyenyeni.
Over the years council has failed to provide affordable housing to residents. Housing co-operatives and private land developers have played a major role in providing homes, but the prices attached to this have remained exorbitant for many, leading to the mushrooming of illegal settlements in the city.
With the City’s vision of becoming world class by 2025, the housing shortage is something that needs to be addressed urgently.