Confusion over Communicare correspondence

Some Communicare residents are unhappy after receiving letters offering them money to leave their homes by the end of July.

Citty Lawless who stays at Communicare’s Musgrave Park in Diep River, said she had received the letter.

“No one from Communicare came to explain what’s happening. Where are old people supposed to go?” she said.

Ms Lawless, who has been organising events for the elderly for many years, is soon to be without a hall because Communicare is demolishing the one at Musgrave Park, as well as garages there, to make way for 130-odd new units.

Ms Lawless said she would not be affected by the letter due to the nature of her rental agreement with the non-profit organisation.

“Communicare can’t subsidise so many people anymore, and this is why they are offering people a one-off payment to help them with moving costs.

“The amounts will vary depending on the size of their unit. Some people are paying R500 rental a month while others pay
R3 000 for the same size,” she said.

Communicare’s CEO, Anthea Houston, said it had long faced scrutiny for subsidising the rent of tenants seen as too privileged to qualify for such aid.

“We’ve had criticism about people paying low rent and yet driving fancy cars, hence the need for the letters. As part of the initiative, we have introduced a limited incentive programme. We are offering a financial incentive to any tenant who wishes to vacate by end July.

“This is completely voluntary, and tenants have no obligation to accept. We must stress that we are not paying our elderly tenants to leave,” she said.

Ms Houston said nothing would change for those whose rent was 30% or more of the income the family earned.

She said the amount depended on the size and rental of the unit and would be from R1 000 upwards.

“Some are bachelor flats, others are shared, two or three roomed with rent from R700 to R6 000,” she said.

Ms Houston said they had no way of knowing what their tenants were earning, and they would be doing an income assessment later in the year to help those who truly needed it.

She said they were trying to tackle a dire housing shortage with projects that would introduce
4 000 units.

Communicare owns about 35 buildings and also free-standing properties in Ruyterwacht and Brooklyn totalling 3 375 rental units.

“The plan is to increase this because of the shortage, particularly for those who are earning below R22 000 per month.

That’s our market,” Ms Houston said.

They were still working with the idea of cross-subsidising rent, she said, so that those who could pay subsidised those who could not.

“We have reduced rentals in Lakeside, Newlands, Bishop
Lavis and Mandalay because we’re able to get more rental in,” she said.