SA in race to meet housing demand


7 June 2012

Despite delivering over 2.8-million subsidised houses since 1994, South Africa is battling rapid urban migration coupled with capacity constraints in provinces and municipalities, and will have to co-ordinate with precision if it is to meet its housing delivery commitments, a government report finds.

Despite a state investment of about R62-billion in the built environment since 1994, approximately 2.3-million households remained inadequately housed in 2009, while there were still 1.2-million households in more than 2 500 informal settlements, and 1.1-million in overcrowded and underserviced conditions, according to a government mid-term review report.

The report, released by Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane in Pretoria on Friday, reviews the progress made by the current administration at the November 2011 mid-point of its 2009-14 electoral term.


Ambitious housing, rental, social housing targets


It indicates that South Africa’s nine provinces have since 2009 delivered 83 412 serviced sites for the relocation of households living in informal settlements.

In addition, 19 of the 45 priority municipalities identified by the Human Settlements Department have been upgraded, or had formalised the informal settlements in their areas.

In 2009, the Department of Human Settlements committed itself to improving the quality of life of 400 000 households through upgrading informal settlements in 45 priority municipalities.

A target was also set for stimulating growth in affordable home ownership and the rental market. Since then, a total of 15 545 private-public rentals and social housing units, or 19% of the target, have been built.


Capacity constraints in provinces, municipalities


To enable more integrated planning of human settlements, 27 municipalities were to be accredited to carry out the housing function.

However, there were significant technical capacity constraints in provinces and municipalities, leading to concerns about whether the targets for upgrading the country’s informal settlements were going to be met by 2014.

The report highlights the fact that between 400 000 and 600 000 households fell in the middle ground of neither qualifying for a state subsidy nor being able to access housing finance.

The state’s housing investment since 1994 had also been unable to create more socially integrated neighbourhoods and overcome the dislocation of the poor from economic opportunities. Urban sprawl and low densities continued to contribute to unproductive and inefficient cities.


State-owned land being made available


Despite the challenges, about 1 329 hectares of well-located state-owned land is in the process of being transferred to the Housing Development Agency. A further 1 066 hectares of state-owned land has been released to municipalities for housing, offering major potential to trigger urban integration.

South African households have been growing at 3% per annum against a population growth of 1% since 2002, and this, coupled with rapid urban migration, has resulted in a sharp increase in housing demand and informal settlement growth.

“Early limits to the size of the subsidy pushed projects to the cheapest land on the edges of cities. Improvements in the quality of the houses built and settlement design since 2005 inadvertently resulted in a decline in the number of houses delivered per annum,” the report states.


Co-ordination required


It goes on to note that the affordable housing market remained incapable of producing at significant scale due to a lack of affordability and product availability, as well as supply-side limitations of land and infrastructure, and delays in planning approvals and township establishment.

It recommends that the Department of Human Settlements develops plans for all informal settlement upgrades in the 45 priority municipalities within the next four to six months.

“A full informal settlement upgrading implementation support programme has to be negotiated between national government, provinces and the 45 municipalities and be finalised in the same period.

“Each municipality should establish interim service levels and put in place dedicated management arrangements to interface with communities. In addition, the plans for delivering integrated human settlements in rapidly growing towns must be aligned to the informal settlement upgrading plans in the 45 priority municipalities.”

Source: BuaNews