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.
The governments 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
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
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 governments 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.