Interactive graphic – 20 years of housing in SA

2014-05-02 11:18

The provision of housing in South Africa was described as one of the country’s biggest challenges in 1994.

But what is the situation now? How many houses have been delivered? And how many more are needed? This Africa Check guide looks at the housing situation in South Africa.

How big is the housing backlog?

A 1994 housing white paper described providing housing to the country’s citizens as one of the greatest challenges facing government. It estimated that the urban housing backlog stood at about 1.5 million houses and that the backlog was growing at a rate of 178 000 units a year.

The 1996 national census revealed that 1.4 million shacks or informal dwellings remained in the country. This represented 16% of the 9 million households in South Africa at the time.

By 2011, the census showed that the number of shacks and informal dwellings had increased to about 1.9 million. However, this then represented about 13% of all households in the country – a decrease of three percentage points since 1996.

How much will it cost to eradicate the backlog?

Following an investigation into the housing situation in South Africa, the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) produced a report titled Exploring Alternative Finance and Policy Options for Effective and Sustainable Delivery of Housing in South Africa.

Late last year, FFC chairperson Bongani Khumalo estimated that it would cost government approximately R800 billion to eradicate the housing backlog by 2020. How many houses are delivered each year?

SA’s 20 years of housing delivery

Dec 2013 (9 months)

South Africa

1994/95

Drag

Interactive graphic: Drag to navigate the timeline.Click the provinces for their respective data.

Houses/units (excluding serviced sites) delivered from Human Settlements Development Grant funds as at December 31 2013

60,820

South Africa:

Drag to navigate the timeline.Click the provinces for their respective data.

(Play timeline)

(Houses built per year)

20 Years of Democracy:

= 40 000

20-year total:2,799,701

74,409

1995/96

129,193

1996/97

209,000

1997/98

1998/99

235,635

1999/2000

161,572

2000/01

170,932

2001/02

143,281

2002/03

131,784

2003/04

150,733

2004/05

148,253

2005/06

134,023

2006/07

153,374

2007/08

146,465

2008/09

160,403

2009/10

161,854

2010/11

121,879

2011/12

120,610

2012/13

115,079

2013/14

70,362

20-year total:328,642

8,820

Western Cape:

Drag

13,123

16,242

30,970

34,575

26,916

17,730

16,643

13,626

13,309

13,019

16,053

16,042

16,093

15,717

16,566

12,908

11,065

13,534

5,691

Free State:

20-year total:221,622

7,177

5,558

8,224

12,718

17,391

16,088

7,005

9,155

16,746

16,447

17,635

11,670

12,482

14,667

20,232

5,136

9,070

5,477

4,201

Eastern Cape:

20-year total:304,673

2,267

2,775

10,925

22,767

24,659

20,345

24,612

10,816

27,162

13,074

22,642

16,874

14,458

11,252

15,759

18,965

10,784

14,498

12,084

7,955

20-year total:62,383

Northern Cape:

2,322

2,841

2,902

3,369

2,387

2,600

4,148

2,588

6,056

3,787

3,196

1,507

2,295

2,464

2,973

4,463

4,620

3,683

2,820

1,362

KwaZulu Natal:

20-year total:507,342

6,114

12,432

22,035

55,440

53,105

28,997

28,547

14,379

11,139

33,668

36,734

21,601

21,017

22,374

26,951

23,639

20,991

22,119

25,940

20,120

20-year total:267,510

7,415

North West:

4,278

15,750

14,821

18,367

12,944

14,109

13,876

9,921

9,255

6,870

14,825

21,258

15,281

16,848

16,557

16,816

16,333

14,424

7,562

43,969

20-year total:675,303

Gauteng:

23,966

33,498

50,110

58,170

45,384

38,547

46,723

34,826

31,771

24,846

20,430

45,292

39,768

33,654

25,117

22,521

21,220

15,902

Mpumalanga:

5,881

20-year total:209,666

4,702

12,492

7,682

16,838

4,808

13,748

14,584

11,642

14,278

12,223

14,986

7,289

12,844

16,779

7,800

9,860

7,702

7,571

5,957

20-year total:222,560

Limpopo:

3,869

4,734

7,125

11,123

10,143

12,401

13,403

16,667

8,257

14,885

12,276

10,112

14,053

9,706

10,941

19,978

15,647

13,619

12,009

1,612

Between 1994/1995 and December last year, the department of human settlements reported that almost 2.8 million housing units were delivered.

Housing provision started slowly after the first democratic elections. In 1994/95, nearly 61 000 housing units were delivered. The next year, this increased to about 75 000. In 1996/97, delivery almost doubled to 130 000 housing units. By the end of the first five years, just over 700 000 houses had been delivered.

Housing delivery peaked in 1998/99 when 235 000 houses were delivered. Since then delivery has fluctuated to about 140 000 houses a year.

What legislation regulates housing delivery?

The Constitution states that “[e]veryone has the right to have access to adequate housing” and that the “state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right”.

The Housing Act (1997) provides for the facilitation of a sustainable housing development process and lays down the roles, responsibilities and functions of the different spheres of government.

The National Norms and Standards (2007) outlines the minimum physical requirements for standalone dwellings. Each house must have 40m² of floor space, two bedrooms, a separate bathroom with a toilet, a shower and hand basin, and a combined living area and kitchen.

It must also have an electrical board installed that has access to electricity. There are further requirements regarding access to water, sanitation, roads, storm water drains and street lighting.

How is responsibility split between the different tiers of government?

Government’s responsibilities are outlined in the Housing Act.

National government is responsible for, among other things, determining a housing policy, setting broad national housing delivery goals and monitoring the performance of provincial and local government delivery goals and budgets. It is also required to establish and maintain a national housing data bank and information system.

Broadly, provincial government is required to “promote and facilitate the provision of adequate housing in its province within the framework of national housing policy”. It must coordinate housing development in the province and support municipalities in the performance of their duties.

Municipalities must ensure that the right to housing is progressively realised in their jurisdiction. They must also identify and designate land for housing and ensure that water, sanitation, electricity, roads, storm water drainage and transport are provided.

Is a housing opportunity always a house?

In some cases, housing delivery is reported in housing opportunities and this number may not always equate directly with individual houses. When people receive housing, it may be in a number of forms.

It could be in the form of subsidy housing, which includes a minimum 40m² house. Or it could be in the form of incremental housing, which provides a serviced site with or without tenure. A serviced site should be supplied with water, electricity and sanitation.

Rental housing includes the upgrading and redevelopment of existing rental units and hostels while social housing provides rental or cooperative housing options for low-income people, broadly defined as those whose household income is below R7 500 a month.

Is there a housing waiting list?

Research conducted by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa revealed that the concept of a rational waiting list for housing was a myth.

“Politicians and officials responsible for housing policy in South Africa, at all levels of the state, have sought to create the impression that housing allocation is a rational process, which prioritises those in the greatest need, and those who have been waiting for a subsidised house the longest,” it said.

But the research found that there was no “waiting list” either in the form of a system that allocates houses to people depending on how long they have been on the list, or as a system that takes into consideration special needs or geographical location.

The research found that “[i]nstead there are a range of highly differentiated, and sometimes contradictory, policies and systems in place to respond to housing need”. It noted that the process lacks transparency and is sometimes marred by corruption.

Additional reading:

Jumping the Queue, Waiting Lists and other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocation in South Africa, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa

A Resource Guide to Housing in South Africa 1994-2010, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa

- Researched by Kate Wilkinson, Africa Check

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