Housing and Living Conditions: National Context

  • The national budget allocated for Community Development, which includes human settlements, water and electrification programmes and public transport, increased by 6%, from R196 billion in 2018/19, to R208 billion in 2019/20.
  • According to Stats SA’s 2018 General Household Survey, 81% of South African households were formal dwellings in 2018, followed by 13% informal dwellings and 5% traditional dwellings.
  • The same report found that the percentage of South African households that were connected to the main electricity supply increased from nearly 77% in 2002 to almost 85% in 2018.

Guidelines for Effective Funding in Housing and Living Conditions

  • Funding affordable housing in poor communities is understandably the most popular type of housing support in South Africa. However, funders should not neglect other critical issues related to housing and living conditions. For example, funders can consider catering for moderate income earners who do not qualify for government subsidies or bank mortgages. Banks and large employers have a particularly important role to play here.

  • The need for decent and affordable housing is undoubtedly a pressing issue in South Africa and may be best addressed through strategic partnerships with a broad range of institutions; for example, government agencies, businesses and local organisations. Funders should help mobilise and harness the combined resources, efforts and initiatives of the different stakeholders.

  • While the state has made notable strides in providing affordable housing for the poor, ongoing challenges include backlogs and poor standards of construction. Consequently, focusing on programmes that increase transparency and efficiency in housing allocation could be worthwhile for funders. Furthermore, funders could consider the positive impact of adopting environmentally friendly building systems and products.

National Directives for Housing and Living Conditions

The Housing Act, 1997
The Housing Act (no 107 of 1997) – amended by the Housing Amendment Act in 2001 (no 4 of 2001) - defines housing development as the establishment and maintenance of habitable, stable and sustainable public and private residential environments, to ensure viable households and communities in areas allowing convenient access to economic opportunities, health, educational and social amenities, and that all citizens and permanent residents of the Republic, on a progressive basis, have access to permanent and secure structures, adequate protection against the elements, potable water, adequate sanitary facilities and domestic energy supply. This primary piece of housing legislation compels all spheres of government to prioritise the needs of the poor in respect of housing development, and consult meaningfully with individuals and communities affected by housing development. Required processes include racial, social, economic and physical integration in urban and rural areas; measures to prohibit unfair discrimination on the grounds of gender and other forms of unfair discrimination by all actors in the housing development process; higher density in respect of housing development to ensure the economical utilisation of land and services; and the meeting of special housing needs, including the needs of the disabled.
Breaking New Ground: A Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human
Settlements, 2004
This plan reinforced government’s vision of promoting the achievement of a non-racial, integrated society through the development of sustainable human settlements and quality housing. It built on the 1994 White Paper on Housing, but was unique in that it shifted government’s focus from providing poor households with houses and basic services (e.g. potable water and sanitation) on an equitable basis, to improving the quality of housing and housing environments by integrating communities and settlements. It outlined a five-year plan for the achievement of its objectives and was also included in the 2009 National Housing Code, which simplified information on the various housing subsidy instruments available to assist low-income households. In support of this plan, various stakeholders who attended the 2005 Housing Indaba in Cape Town committed to removing or improving all slums in South Africa by 2014 and fast-tracking the provision of formal housing within human settlements, as stated in the Social Contract for Rapid Housing Delivery.
People’s Housing Process Policy, 2008
The main aim of this policy is to deliver better human settlement outcomes at household and community level, based on community contributions and the leveraging of additional resources through partnerships. It replaced the People’s Housing Partnership Trust Programme, and is aligned with the Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human Settlements.