Housing survey gives snapshot of how we live

Cape Town  The number of households living in formal dwellings across South Africa increased from 76% in 2002 to 80% in 2014, according to the latest General Household Survey released on Wednesday.

According to Statistics SA (Stats SA), the percentage of households living in informal settlements decreased only slightly from 13.6% to 13.1% during the same period.

But the data analysis by Stats SA gave an interesting snapshot of how people live in South Africa.

It showed that 42.6% of black Africans and 28.7% of coloured households lived in formal dwellings with a property value of less than R50 000 but most white (83.8%) and Asians/Indian households (63.1%) households lived in properties valued at R400 000 or more.

In surveys carried out in 2009 and 2014, the poorest households said they spent more than 50% of their money on rent or mortgage payments  the very poor spending up to 66.1% of their income on rent or mortgage in 2014. The richest spent 1%.

In 2013, more than 40% of people living in informal settlements spent 34.9% of their money getting from their homes to work, compared with 32% of people living in formal housing. 

Renting up

The General Household Survey Data showed that the percentage of households that lived in formal dwellings that were owned but not fully paid off declined between 2002 and 2014 from 15.5% to 10.6%. Renting in formal dwellings went up from 19.8% in 20012 to 21.7% in 2014, but in the informal sector it nearly doubled from 18.5% to 35.6%.

In 2011 home ownership rates were highest amongst households headed by white people (63.5%)and lowest among black African household heads (51.5%).

Researchers also found that household heads who were married or living together were slightly more likely to own houses than their counterparts who were separated or not married.

They also found that household heads born in the UK, Europe, Oceana and North Ameria were more likely than South African born household heads to own their own homes with more than seven out of 10 household heads born in the UK and Europe owning their own homes in South Africa.

Between 2002 and 2014, households with a black African household head were more likely to live in informal dwellings than other population groups. By 2014 15% of households with a black African head lived in informal dwellings, compared with about seven percent of coloureds.

The figure for white households is 0.1% and Indian and Asian is 1.1%.

Seventy four percent of households in informal dwellings owned their houses, while 16% lived rent free and nine percent were renting. 

Migration intensified

According to StatsSA there was a decrease in urban informal settlement living from 17% in 2002 to 11% in 2014. Most living in informal settlements were in North West and Gauteng. 

"Migration has intensified and informal settlements have increased in particular in the North West,'' said Statistician-General, Pali Lehohla.

The figures also showed Gauteng was the most popular destination for people to move to with 41.7% of all migrants, followed by the Western Cape (14.85) and KwaZulu-Natal (8.5%).

And 22% of migrant households were more likely to live in informal dwellings than non-migrants.

Although the percentage of households living in informal settlements has stagnated, there has been an increase in the percentage of households living in backyard informal dwellings.

Lehohla said these residents often had better services such as access to a flush toilet and electricity, but it placed a strain on the local municipalities that have to keep up with the increased demand.

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