Family fights for ground-floor unit

Enid George at the top of the staircase in her third floor flat in Ocean View. On the second floor is her neighbour, Bradley Nicholson who is also wheelchair bound.

A wheelchair-bound woman from Ocean View feels let down by the City of Cape Town after numerous failed attempts to move to a ground- floor unit.

Enid George, 75, and her family have been living on the third floor at Lark Spur Court, a City rental unit, for more than 35 years.

Ms George has been in a wheelchair since March when she suffered a heart attack and despite a letter from False Bay Hospital recommending that she be moved to a ground floor unit, her requests have been denied by the City’s rental office.

According to the letter, Ms George also suffers from chronic kidney failure and has hypertension.

Her daughter, Carmen Levendal said they asked to be moved to a ground floor unit on several occasions, even before her mother became wheelchair-bound, as her father, who died in February, suffered from asthma and struggled to make it up the stairs.

An emotional Ms Levendal said her father would usually take care of the bills and since his death, the family had to take care of things on their own.

After her last request to move, Ms Levendal said she was told, by the rent office, that it would not be possible as their rental account was in arrears.

Ms Levendal said she had to quit her job at the Hout Bay Sentinel Fish Factory to look after her mother and it was difficult to make ends meet with her mother’s pension of R1 600.

She and her boyfriend, who is also unemployed, now live with her mother to help her get around. Ms George is unable to leave the apartment on her own and it takes two strong young men to carry her and her wheelchair down the stairs.

“It is emotionally draining to see my mother become weaker and weaker,” she said.

And despite a younger couple living on the ground floor agreeing to “swop” units with Ms George, the rental office said it was not allowed.

But acting mayoral committee member for human settlements, Grant Twigg, said the City was not aware that Ms George was in a wheelchair. He said they knew that she had suffered a heart attack but had been under the impression that she was recuperating at her son’s home in Ocean View.

Ms Levendal said her mother had stayed with her brother for a short period but was told by the housing office to make sure she was home should the housing office make a home visit to assess the situation.

Mr Twigg said Ms Levendal would have to submit an application with the local housing office for transfer to a ground-floor unit, which according to him, were at a premium and not readily available.

Medical documents supporting the application, he said, must be submitted as well and the tenant must be in a good standing with the City. He added that should a transfer be approved, everyone living with the tenant must move to make way for the next beneficiaries on the housing database.

Mr Twigg said Ms Levendal should make contact with the Retreat housing office to conclude the application to transfer units.

“The housing office has been informed of the situation and will assist with the application,” he said.