THE department of local government and housing has set aside R41million to convert the decaying Seshego hostel into family units.

The construction of 189 residential units, which include homes for disabled people, is part of the department's housing allocation for this financial year.

After living in squalid conditions for decades, residents will at last have decent homes in a neat housing complex. But it will come at a price. Unlike in the past when residents did not pay any rent, now they will have to pay a monthly rental fee of R400 and R800 for single and double units, respectively.

Obed Moloto, a ward councillor in the Polokwane municipality, said the project will provide employment for many people around the township.

"We are appealing to the youth to come in their numbers to grab employment opportunities while this project is running.

"This is a big venture and many people with different skills will benefit immensely," Moloto said.

The project, which started with the demolition of the dilapidated hostel compound, is expected to run for a year.

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the department, said: "We are very pleased with the progress and we'd like to urge all the stakeholders to get involved and support the initiative.

"This is what we mean when we say we are building homes and communities."

The complex will have a clinic, a recreation centre, playing area, gardens, parking bays, post boxes and possibly a satellite police station.

Each unit will have prepaid electricity and water meters. A person would have to earn a monthly salary of at least R3500 to be able to live at the new residential complex, Monyela said.

But, most of the current residents survive by doing menial jobs and earn meagre wages.

Chairperson of the residents committee, Andries Ledwaba, told Sowetan that most of the tenants had already protested against the "exorbitant" rentals.

Ledwaba said: "While we appreciate that the department is making our lives better than in the past, we wish to put on record that the monthly rental fee is way too high.

"We are appealing to the government to consider lowering the rental fee," Ledwaba said.