By Cherry Ellis

Local and international speakers recently gathered at the Cape Town Marriot Hotel, Crystal Towers, to attend the fifth annual Affordable Housing Africa conference.

“This event is designed to enable industry role players and their organisations to learn and benefit from the experience of the leading companies within the housing industry,” says a spokesperson for organiser marcus evans.

In his keynote speech, Bonginkosi Madikizela, provincial minister of Human Settlements, Western Cape Government, addressed improving overall housing delivery to maximise the social and economic benefits of urbanisation.

He mentioned that human settlement challenges include:

  • The delivery challenge: the inability of the current delivery model to address the scale of demand.
  • The modality challenge: the outcome which the current delivery model has had on urban and spatial forms of towns and cities.
  • The governance challenge: the complexity of the decision-making frameworks which underpin the current model.

Madikizela says that the state should shift its role to:

  1. Create conditions which support communities and the private sector.
  2. Focus its efforts on aligning important public investments.
  3. Enable markets to function by allowing communities and the private sector to take over the role of housing provision.

“More specifically, the state should enable these actors to invest in housing and businesses; leverage the public value created by state investments; adapt state investments to suit local needs and demands; and create employment opportunities at local level,” he says.

He outlined a delivery guidance for measures for a living Cape to

  • Repurpose existing grant-and-subsidy systems to invest in well located land in neighbourhoods already rich in opportunities.
  • Focus on demand-side subsidies (not supply side), both credit and non-credit linked, as well as demand-side rental subsidies.
  • Use a portfolio approach to urban asset management – think strategically, rather than making ad hoc decisions.
  • Disincentivise land holding and speculation by increasing taxes on underdeveloped land in dense areas.
  • Combat low-density sprawl by applying a ‘minimum-density threshold’ on well located land: prioritise multi-story development.
  • By pursuing public infrastructure optimisation such as perimeter of ‘school site’. development, almost 16% of the registered housing backlog could be met in the metro.
  • Foster engagement between small and large builders to enable skills transfer.
  • Create a strong institutional platform which can support knowledge production, knowledge sharing and strategic coordination of investment efforts.
  • Move away from single-sector output indicators towards cross sectoral indicators that measure the outcomes of human settlement investments in a more holistic way.

The way forward, he says, “If the Living Cape: Human Settlements Framework is to be effective

and transformative all stakeholders involved in the development of sustainable human settlements will need to work together. Initiatives should be undertaken across spheres and departments, in new and innovative ways and with the private sector and civil society,” he concludes.

Other speakers touched on developing higher density affordable housing, integrating affordable housing into cities for conducive mixed used communities, bridging the affordability gap, providing cost-effective, high density homes with a level of sensitivity to appealing and design and stepping onto the home ownership ladder.

SA Affordable Housing will take a closer look at these and other issues in upcoming editions.