3 March 2009
South Africa’s newly launched Housing Development Agency will work with provinces, municipalities and private sector developers to double the country’s housing delivery rate from about 250 000 to over 500 000 units per year, as the country works towards eradicating all informal settlements by 2014.
Speaking at the launch in Pretoria this week, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the agency would address the shortage of well-located land where housing projects could be developed.
“The agency is a special-purpose vehicle that will acquire, hold, develop and release land for residential and community purposes to enable the creation of sustainable human settlements,” she said.
“The escalation in the price of building materials is one of the challenges the department is facing in delivering houses, but the issue of access to suitable land was a greater concern,” Sisulu said.
In 2004, the department visited Malaysia to learn about that country’s experiences in delivering houses, and how to implement efficient, well-thought out and resourced mechanisms for meeting delivery targets.
“State-driven agencies are indeed no guarantee either of efficiency or fairer and speedier delivery,” Sisulu said. “However, they have a huge impact in arresting the escalation of prices through not merely regulation, but by also making available an alternative means for access to housing and land.”
Housing director-general Itumeleng Kotsoane said the agency would ensure that the department was able to build integrated communities with different types of housing tenure, from rental and bonded housing to government-subsidised housing in integrated developments close to areas of economic activity.
He said the agency would work with the government, the private sector and other stakeholders not only to facilitate the availability of land but also on major developments, including the massive urban renewal programmes in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
By the end of the current financial year, at the end of March, South Africa will have built 2.8-million houses since 1994, providing shelter to more than 13.5-million people. Over 1.2-million of the houses were built from 2004 onwards, after the launch of the Breaking New Ground policy.
“Over the past 14 years, [the] government has spent over R100-billion in providing serviced land and a top structure,” Kotsoane said. “This is the biggest economic investment in the residential construction sector, and more than 2.7-million families [now] have houses and land they call their own.”