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22 Mar

The Walmer Link housing project

Added by : Roger Matlock

The GM South Africa Foundation is pioneering a unique approach to social development by directly managing innovative pilot projects in the fields of public school education and state subsidy housing. Once these projects are successful, the Foundation encourages their replication on scale in three ways:

Apart from its successes in education, the Foundation has piloted and promoted the replication of a number of out-of-the-box housing models. These include South Africa’s first ‘rent-to-buy’ project and the Missionvale and Sakhasonke free basic house projects. The Foundation’s financial inputs on these innovative new approaches to housing delivery are modest relative to the almost exponential outputs resulting from State subsidies, private sector housing finance and replication of the models by other agencies.

Some years ago, the Foundation decided to implement an experimental mixed income, mixed race and mixed tenure project in Port Elizabeth and established The Home Market as a new independent non-profit housing delivery agency to develop the Walmer Link project.

Walmer Link consists of two adjacent but fundamentally different sets of residential units, namely a section consisting of permanent rental apartments and a second section consisting of houses for sale. Both sections have received substantial government subsidies, with The Home Market being the developer of both.

The construction of the rental unit section was completed during March 2013 and has been sold to the Imizi Housing Association, which is managing the rental and maintenance of the 347 apartments. These units are in three to four storey blocks and vary in size from 30m² studio apartments to 43m² one bedroom units to 54m² two bedroom apartments. The subsidy policies ensure that all tenants earn between R1 500 and R7 500 per month, with income related rentals from R580 to R2 250 per month.

The Home Market has managed the installation of all municipal services for the 430 freehold sites in the other section of Walmer Link and the construction of 8 show houses. As announced by President Zuma in his recent State of the Nation address, this section of Walmer Link is the first housing development in South Africa to make use of the new national FLISP (finance linked individual subsidy plan) subsidy system to make mortgage bonds more affordable to the ‘gap’ market, namely those earning between R3 500 and R15 000 per month.

The GM South Africa Foundation’s role throughout the process has been to:

An example of this replication approach is Fairview Link. This project, where construction started earlier this year, is based on the lessons learnt for Walmer Link. Fairview Link is a subsidized rental scheme consisting of 368 apartments and will offer decent affordable rental accommodation in a highly strategic position in Port Elizabeth. The development is situated in an area which was previously occupied by persons who were removed under an array of racially based apartheid legislation. Fairview Link’s uniqueness is that it provides a model for real integration and reconstruction in a part of the City which experienced forced removals and subsequent urban blight.

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