21 June 2010
The government’s new housing approach will go a long way towards reversing the apartheid legacy in housing and social planning in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said in East London over the weekend.
“All human beings strive to obtain decent shelter in a decent community. That is why as government we are doing all we can to assist our people to obtain affordable and habitable shelter,” Zuma said during the launch of a social housing project in the East London suburb of Amalinda on Saturday.
The Emerald Sky project is an innovative initiative aimed at providing affordable housing to people in need. Through it, the government provides grant funding to private developers to build rental homes for low- and middle-income workers in an effort to prevent the spiralling of slum houses in the cities.
Zuma described the project, consisting of 656 units, of which 350 are already occupied, as an important addition to the government’s response to the need for accommodation.
“You will notice that the new style social housing projects that we are building are on well-located and landscaped land, with access to social amenities such as education, transport, recreational facilities and others,” Zuma said during the event, which was also attended by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.
According to the Housing Department, settlements also contribute to the country’s social transformation programme of reversing “apartheid spatial planning” and to restore the human dignity and self-esteem of the country’s people.
The government has built over 2.7-million homes for South Africans since 1994, giving shelter to more than 13-million people.
Zuma further said government plans to spend close to R15-billion this year on housing. This is being done in part through the provision of housing grants, with homes being built in more than 8 000 human settlements projects across the country.
“We are also upgrading many of the 2 700 informal settlements which exist alongside almost every urban and peri-urban town, to address the squalid conditions of those living there,” he said.
In addition, the government is making available a Guarantee Fund that will make it easier for working people to access a mortgage bond to build their own homes. It is hoped that the initiative could eliminate many of the reasons given by financial institutions for not financing the development of affordable housing.
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