STATEMENT BY EXECUTIVE MAYOR GESIE VAN DEVENTER
The Stellenbosch Municipality has launched its first ever Housing App. The App is avaliable for downloading at this link.
The Municipality is currently rolling out a comprehensive campaign to update and refine our Housing Demand Database. As part of this, we have today launched our first ever Housing App to increase accessibility and access to the housing database. The App is one of the first municipal applications in the country that focuses exclusively on providing a digital platform on which our residents can submit a housing application.
The Municipality’s Housing Waiting List goes as far back as 1987. With the 1995 amalgamation of the areas and towns that today comprise the Stellenbosch Municipality’s area of jurisdiction, the various waiting lists were fused into one. There are approximately 16 300 applicants currently registered on our database, but the information of many applicants may be incomplete or out-dated. We often find that applicants do not update their information with regards to changes in income, people may lose their jobs, get new jobs, move away, have children, etc.
It is for this reason that the current administration decided to embark on a process of updating the information on the housing waiting list and to import all of this information into the new Municipal Housing Demand Database. It is critical that the database we work from is as up to date and accurate as possible. The new Housing App that we have launched today is an added tool developed for applicants to easily gain access to the database, apply for opportunities and update their information. The App increases accessibility and access but also caters to the many residents who work full time and find it difficult to travel to and queue at the housing office.
The App (VOIS Housing Application) is available for Android smart phones and an iPhone version is currently being developed. The functionality of the app will also be expanded to create an efficient two-way communication channel for residents and the municipality, helping to decrease the necessity of in-person visits to the municipal offices. We are investigating the possibility of expanding the language function to include Afrikaans and Xhosa.
Once a resident has downloaded the app from our municipal website, it allows the user to create a secure profile which can be used to complete an application. The beneficiaries are taken through a step by step process that allows them to choose the type of housing assistance needed for example GAP housing, Breaking New Ground Housing (old RDP houses), Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) housing for qualifying first time home buyers and social housing etc. The user can then add financial dependants, children and a partner or spouse to an application and indicate if there are any special needs or disabilities. Once an application is created, the user then has 7 days to submit the required paperwork to the housing office for verification. A dedicated official has been assigned to process housing app applications in order to ensure a speedy process. The entire application can be completed offline and will only use a very small amount of data when hitting the ‘submit’ button.
We are however still catering for residents who prefer to make use of the normal, manual process and over the next 6 months we will be setting up mobile offices and a roadshow across the municipal area to allow all residents who have applied for a housing opportunity in the past, to verify and update their information. The dates and venues will be published in our local media, website, social media and be displayed in all libraries and municipal offices. It is critically important that ALL residents who have applied on our waiting list update and verify their information. NO existing information will be deleted with the migration to the housing demand database. Applicants who do not verify their information will however be marked as inactive until they contact the municipality and verify their information.
Mayor van Deventer said at the launch that this new app will feed into our new and updated Housing Demand Database that will allow us to keep accurate records and plan according to the needs of our residents. It will help us to determine where future projects should focus, as well as the type of housing assistance that residents qualify for. This shows once again that Stellenbosch Municipality is truly committed to planning and implementing housing projects to the benefit of all our residents.
Stuart Grobbelaar T: 021 808 8172 | C: 084 036 1395
Mart-Marié Haasbroek T: 021 808 8024 | C: 072 910 3724