Have you ever watched how birds build their homes? They build it one twig at a time. Today, South Africa has a crisis; thousands and thousands of people are in need of homes. Poverty and the housing crisis are closely linked. It’s the poorest of the poor who are left destitute and homeless. According to Africa Check, the 2011 Census showed that the number of shacks and informal settlements had increased by 1.9 million. This 1.9 million grows out of people’s need for housing.
I was travelling by taxi on my way from work. As I peeped out of the window, I saw a lot of police vans and a lot of people gathered together. What was going on? I heard that people started building shacks in the piece of land next to Shoprite. Who would have thought that place could be considered as a residential area for people to live? The law enforcement officers started to demolish those houses.
Days went by and people held gatherings because they desperately needed homes. The fight between police and the people intensified. What could be the solution to all of this? I asked myself. Then, in my mind, I thought an answer to the housing crisis could not be immediate; with our growing population, there is a lot to be done.
Each day when I pass by this place my mind is always challenged into thinking about a lot of issues. I always wonder: where will these people fetch water? How are they going to handle sanitation issues? Will their community be able to deal with crime? And I asked myself, what about the spread of diseases, communicable diseases, because in my opinion where there are a lot of people gathered, people become vulnerable to diseases.
A need for housing is a huge crisis in South Africa. People live in shacks, hoping that it will be their channel to access housing, but it is not necessarily the case. People spend years and years being stuck on a housing list, and nothing seems to be helping because these things take time. Shacks now become the only means that people have a roof over their heads. One day I hope to live in a South Africa where almost everyone has access to housing. It’s a basic human right for all, but I believe there is hope for everyone. Conditions will not remain the same if we work together as a collective.
Tell us: How do you think the housing crisis in South Africa can be solved?