Housing is at the forefront of the national agenda for delivery and the government is taking overall responsibility for providing houses to all. The government inherited a critical housing shortage, with the 1996 Census reflecting a housing backlog of 2 202 519. Since coming to power in 1994, the state has built 1,4 million housing units, providing more than 5 million people with secure homes. For indicators on the progress of housing delivery since 1994, click here.
The government’s goal is to create sustainable housing developments whereby people own their properties. This engenders a sense of pride in their homes, streets and areas and advances the entire community. At least 2 million people have benefited from the transfer of ownership of 398 000 houses to their residents since the government came to power. In the past 8 years, the percentage of home-owners has risen from 66 to 77 percent of all household dwellers, despite the fact that the number of households has also increased by 1,5-million since then.
The National Housing Subsidy Programme aims to stimulate both rural and urban development. Since 1994, 1 323 205 housing subsidies were allocated, 36 percent of these to women-headed households. National housing policy specifies that all housing subsidies offered be met with a contribution from the recipient – either in the form of funds or labour – to encourage a culture of responsibility and saving for housing. The Housing Subsidy Scheme gives six different funding options for those who are eligible and who earn R3 500 or less per month.
Finance for the poor
For housing developments to be sustainable, contributions are required from all sectors of society – government, communities, NGOs, the private sector and individuals. Access to finance remains the biggest obstacle to housing delivery. Since 1994 the government has attempted to work out solutions with banks on issues like red-lining, bad debts and subsidy-linked bonds. Servcon was established as a public-private partnership to tackle the problem of bond defaulting and has so far cleared 15 000 bad loans worth R612-million. The National Housing Finance Corporation was also set up (in 1996) to give banks access to capital for subsidy-linked and lower income housing. So far the NHFC has given out R1,5-billion to finance institutions for housing.
Job creation and skills development
The government’s low cost housing programme creates jobs by promoting labour-intensive methods, employing local labour and small-time contractors. It also supports those who prefer to build their own homes and provides technical, financial and other support to them.
Around 53,6 percent of the population live in urban areas. The Human Settlement Redevelopment Programme, initiated in 1999, aims to improve the quality of the urban environment and address the imbalances and backlogs inherited from the apartheid government. This involves yearly roll-on housing development plans spanning all three tiers of government. So far the government has spent more than R40-million in 15 areas in all 9 provinces in human settlement programmes.