Thursday, 18 December 2014 18:30

1.5-million housing push

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced that government is planning to build 1.5-million houses in the next five years and has put new initiatives in place to improve the relationship between government and the private sector, which she hopes will help fund the construction of the newly launched housing scheme.

The initiatives, which were canvassed with stakeholders at a recent indaba, include coordinated efforts to access funding, faster payments to contractors and the establishment of an ombudsman office.

The indaba sought to rekindle the momentum built in 2005 when the then Department of Housing entered into a social contract with civil society, which subsequently resulted in setting and achieving the goal of delivering 1.2-million housing units by 2010.

A delivery budget of R29-billion was allocated to the Department of Human Settlements this year and will be increased to R34-billion in the next two years.

Under the plan, 30% of the planned 1.5-million houses would be allocated to indigent citizens, 20% to those earning between R1 500 and R10 000 a month and 20% to rental accommodation. A further 10% would be allocated to "social housing" – heavily subsidised entry-level rental accommodation – while the remaining 20% will go to serviced sites in informal settlements.

Meeting the 1.5-million target is also vital in addressing a national backlog estimated at about 2.3-million houses and eradicating the 2 200 informal settlements dotted around South Africa, and which were often the sites of violent service-delivery protests. "We want to recommit ourselves and mobilise even greater participation because we know we cannot make it alone," Sisulu averred.

During the upcoming five-year roll-out phase, the emphasis would also be given to megaprojects, comprising at least 10 000 housing units each. Such projects, the government argued, had the advantage of scale, which created greater scope for input localisation and partnerships between large and emerging contractors.

Sisulu further commented that human settlement developments could potentially be "great job creators", where the energy and talents of previously unemployed youth could be harnessed.