By Jo Ferris-Davies, Rooftops Canada
Towards the end of March, the Equal Spaces Project and National Association of Social Housing Organizations (NASHO) teams met with the City of Cape Town Social Housing staff and new Social Housing Institutions SHIs for a two day training workshop on how to respond to a recently issued Request for Proposals (RFP) for a very well located land site in the City of Cape Town.
This was an important breakthrough for the Equal Spaces Project and NASHO. It was the first time we provided training as part of a city issued RFP, and attendance at our training event was mandatory. It was also a vital part of the City’s process for releasing land which we have been supporting.
The City of Cape Town has 13 SHI Partners who are conditionally accredited by South Africa’s Social Housing Regulatory Authority – the SHRA. These are groups who have never developed or managed social housing. They have a formal relationship with the City of Cape Town. (See Lizette Zuniga’s October 2017 blog below about the process for selecting these SHIs.) The City of Cape Town designed the RFP to only allow the new SHIs, Conditional Partners, to participate in the bidding process subject to participating in workshop. This was to encourage new social housing players in Cape Town, and to help them through the process.
The Lansdowne site is a very well located piece of City owned land. It is close to shopping, train and bus lines in a formerly “whites only” area of the city. The land will allow for a minimum of 450 social housing units. The successful bidder will get the land much less than its market value to help make the social housing affordable.
Of the 13 eligible new SHIs, nine participated in the training event. These included property developers interested in expanding into the social housing sector, and several small organizations with absolutely no development experience. The training covered a range of topics designed to provide background information on the scoring elements on the RFP to better enable all of the participants to respond in their bid.
The City of Cape Town’s RFP is exciting as it reinforces a number of issues that the Equal Spaces Project has been promoting. These include: the role of woman in developing and managing new housing; including special needs in the housing mix; the importance of good design to both promote integration into the broader community and to foster secure and safe homes for low income tenants.
Participants felt that the information provided was clear and well presented. They appreciated the presentation on the financial model – especially the RFP’s financial spreadsheet tool which was developed by Equal Spaces NASHO. We provided all of the handouts and presentations on a flash drive. Participants found the module on building design and possible pitfalls very helpful. The discussions on property management issues was identified as a highlight by many of the participants as all these SHIs are new to social housing and eager to understand the unique challenges inherent to social housing management.