16 April 2019

THE HOUSING CRISIS IS GETTING WORSE, NOT BETTER. WE NEED A NEW MODEL.

 

Statement by Mark Rountree: National Policy Officer for GOOD

 

16 April 2019

 

 

Rising protests across the country indicate that what many South Africans feel is by the ANC’s own statistics proven to be true: the housing crisis is getting worse, not better.  South Africa deserves the truth. And South Africans deserve real solutions.

Rising protests across the country appear in part political electioneering, but that dismissal of our citizen’s voices belies the underlying truth that the level of delivery, and of access to housing in particular, is getting worse, not better.  President Ramaphosa’s statement yesterday that delivery of a million homes within 5 years is achievable, is unfortunately entirely unrealistic at the current housing delivery rates and using the current ANC delivery models.  The governments and ANC’s own statistics prove they would need to double the current delivery to achieve this.

However, it would be possible under a GOOD Government. The City of Cape Town’s formal housing delivery was almost doubled under Brett Herron, the secretary general of GOOD. In 2016, then-Mayor and now GOOD leader Patricia de Lille restructured the administration to align departments and improve efficiencies. As a result, housing delivery almost doubled within 2 years. GOOD would use these same mechanisms in every town and city to accelerate delivery. We would also ensure that new housing is developed on well-located public land, close to transport links and existing services. GOOD will also provide title to residents of informal settlements, so that they are able to invest in their own homes. Through these mechanisms, the country’s housing backlog will be reduced faster.

By comparison, the record of delivery of the ruling ANC and DA governments prove they cannot achieve the national targets. In the 2006/7 year, the National Department of Human Settlements reported that 271,219 housing opportunities were delivered.  Last month, the ANC’s twitter account confirmed that the national delivery of housing had declined by more than 60% during the last decade.  Only 429 009 homes have been built across the whole country in the past four years. 

Delivery is not keeping pace with demand.  The 2017 StatsSA household survey estimated that there were 16 199 000 households in South Africa, of which 13,6% (2 203 064 homes) were informal dwellings. These records show that at least 60,000 new informal homes are being built each year.

At the current national delivery rate, taking in to account increasing demand from new informal homes, the backlog will at best only be cleared in 46 years’ time.  More realistically is that under the current ANC and DA delivery mechanisms, the backlog will never be cleared because

-          Urbanisation is increasing, and with it, demand for new housing.

-          Cuts to the national housing budget and rising construction costs mean that in reality, continued decreases in delivery are more likely if we stay on our current path.

Informal settlements are a global phenomenon, synonymous with rapidly growing urban areas.  As South Africa continues to become a more urbanised country, towns and cities are placed under more and more pressure to deliver services. And housing.

In some progressive developing countries, informal settlements have been provided title to the land that they live on.  This allows residents to invest their own money to improve their homes and allows governments to focus on the delivery of electricity, roads, water and sewage to more people, faster. 

In some neighbourhoods I have been to in Peru, it is no longer possible to tell which areas started as informal settlements and which as formal townships. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the once informal favelas are now bustling formal neighbourhoods with guest houses and restaurants packed with locals and tourists.

GOOD, led by Patricia de Lille, has been evaluating these urban development models. To really solve our housing backlogs in South Africa, we need to use the hundreds of thousands of properties owned by local, provincial and national government to accelerate access to land. 

In rural areas, for housing and agriculture; in urban areas, for high density inclusionary housing and infill housing developments in the inner cities, and, where there are informal settlements on suitable land, to provide title to those residents so they have the choice and security to invest in their own homes rather than await a promise that, at best, is more than 40 years away.

ENDS …

Mark Rountree

082 880 4393

markr@forgood.org.za

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