Since the lockdown was instituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa, 207 enquiries were recorded at the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements Helpdesk between 27 March and 30 April. During the same period, the Rental Housing Tribunal (RHT) received 159 enquiries. The normal combined average for these frontline services would be well over 2 000 queries per month.
Among others, and besides general housing queries, residents required assistance about the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) and the Housing Demand Database. Pertaining to the RHT, queries related to evictions, non-payment of rentals, termination of municipal services, hearing dates, utilising deposits to cover the arear rental payments and moving to a new house during the lockdown period.
At this stage, although the Department of Human Settlement is operating a limited service due to the continued lockdown regulations, all citizens still have access to both the helpdesk and RHT via telephone or email, between 8am – 4pm (see attached).
It’s pleasing to note that residents are still using the service. I’d like to encourage all citizens to continue doing so, as the advice offered and recommendations made, could assist in resolving or clarifying some of the concerns they might have. As much as we’re currently unable to provide a full service, residents should know that our committed frontline staff are here to assist them.
Since the lockdown regulations have been relaxed from Alert level 5 to 4, we’ve commenced with preparing the Helpdesk area, for full accessible service to re-commence soon. Although we don’t have a set opening date, the preparation includes the availability of hand sanitising as citizens enter and exit the area, ensuring that both the public and staff wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE), which consists of masks and gloves and rearranging the area to ensure enough space, so that there’s compliance with social distancing.
We continue to find ourselves in a challenging period, which requires all of our cooperation. It is vital we maintain the social distance and practice good and effective hygiene, if we’re going to stop the spread of COVID-19.