What Level Ground does is going to lead to many questions due to housing, restitution and poverty being complex issues in South Africa. We aim to clarify your questions below. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
How do people become eligible to receive a house? Who benefits from the donations?
A member of Level Ground can propose any person to receive housing. That person/family is then screened and once accepted (criteria being: South African, previously disadvantaged), put on a waiting list. The recipient is then ‘interviewed’ by a committee member AND the person who nominated them as to their needs, family history, savings plan etc. The committee member and nominator then assist the recipient every step of the way through to owning or renting their own brick house, the key being the formation of relationships.
Whilst the ‘interview’ process is going on the committee members then will be searching for appropriate land/housing to house those on the list. In that time the recipient will be encouraged to start saving towards a down payment towards the house and assisted in working out their finances to do so.
Once appropriate housing has been found, the recipient will then be moved to the housing, paying their down payment and then will be paying a monthly bond (based on affordability and not what a bond actually would cost) whilst Level Ground will pay the balance of the bond out of donated funds – the restitution amounts received from donors.
What is your process for giving houses?
- Identify potential beneficiaries
- Interview them to ascertain their requirements, needs and means
- If ‘accepted’, place them on a waiting list and beneficiary starts saving
- Identify suitable property
- Discuss with beneficiary
- Beneficiary buys their house and makes monthly payments
How do people come to own their houses?
Simply put a beneficiary buys the house using money borrowed from Level Ground just like most ordinary real estate transactions – this ensures true ownership and empowerment, and does not carry the indignity of receiving yet another handout.
Most of our beneficiaries would never qualify for a loan from a bank and this is where Level Ground steps in. Additionally since the money we lend out is essentially funds received as donations the intention is that the beneficiaries will eventually have their debt cancelled provided they have faithfully paid the minimum nominal sum (based on their means) agreed by them towards their house. The balance of the bond is then written off by Level Ground after a period of 7 years – an application of the year of jubilee principle from the Old Testament where debts are forgiven.
Can I request where or to what my donation specifically goes? Can I help a family directly i.e. to know who my money is going towards?
Yes – we are trying to get as many people into houses as possible. If you want to help someone or a family in particular we can accommodate this. We do not make our beneficiary lists public but if you have a particular person who you want to help get a brick house – you simply follow the process of becoming a member of Level Ground (link to membership) and propose your beneficiary. We will then take the process from there – but remember unless you can commit to donating the full amount required, your beneficiary will have to go onto the waiting list until Level Ground can get enough other donors who are donating to the general pool to allow us to purchase a house for your beneficiary. Beneficiaries from the general pool are allocated according to the waiting list and available suitable houses at the discretion of the executive committee. (e.g. a single mom with kids looking for a small two bed house may be able to be accommodated quicker than an extended family looking for 4 bedrooms)
Is the association registered with the South African government?
Level Ground is a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) and enjoys tax exempt status from the South African Revenue Services. All donations to Level Ground are tax deductible (up to the statutory limits).
Level Ground is a duly constituted association of persons and is in the process of registering with the Department of Social Development as a Non-profit Organisation (NPO).
Is the association audited and checked?
Level Ground’s annual financial statements are reviewed by Meredith Harington Inc., a Registered Audit firm in Cape Town, who kindly perform the review pro bono. The financial statements and books are prepared by the Treasurer who is a Chartered Accountant and accountable to the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants for his professional actions.
Additionally, the executive committee of Level Ground have asked the eldership team of Jubilee Community Church to act as high-level oversight of the activities of the association to ensuring that the association does not stray from its mandate and objectives.
I am not from South Africa. Can I get a tax benefit from my donation?
That depends on the country you are donating from. Each country has a different tax regime which would determine your ability to get a deduction for a donation to a charitable organisation.