Affordable Housing, in its broadest sense, is housing which is deemed affordable to those with a median household income or below, as rated by the national government  by a recognised housing affordability index.

Essentially the critical factors about any housing is that it must be compliant to compulsory regulations and standards, sustainable, liveable, resilient and safe.

Traditionally, South Africa is a bricks and mortar nation, and while no one questions the validity of this to house the people we need to house, we must also look at other building methods. Personally, I dislike the word ‘alternative’ as it may indicate something less than what is used currently.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Inner city developments converting office space to residential are using innovative materials due to the fact that one cannot keep putting more weight on foundations than what they were originally designed for.

Timber Homes, not necessarily Tiny Homes, must become an integral part of the housing landscape, and we need to tackle the myths and show the facts. Credit to dtic for promoting Timber in Construction and to the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu for publicly stating that we must look at other sources to build with if we are to house our people.

Can we really sit around in comfort while millions live in squalor and in overcrowded houses? We include the Gauteng MEC’s message at a recent opening of social housing units – makes for encouraging reading.

Of course, to really make this happen we need to go further down the line to land and ownership. The SA Affordable Residential Developers Association (SAARDA) has mentioned the lack of urgency at municipal levels, the Deeds Office, the Master’s Office and, independently, CAHF has echoed the same concerns.

So, while we talk about building materials, who is going to tackle the government part of this situation? CAHF, SAARDA and others have offered solutions which appear to fall on deaf or disinterested ears.

CoGTA has a critical role to play, and if we follow what the MEC has said, this is progress. But it must extend to all provinces. Cape Town is doing well, but upper North seems to be dragging its heels.

So, here is the challenge to you all out there – what do you believe should happen to change the landscape? I can promise that every idea will be forwarded to the relevant department for comment. It’s time for people to speak and be heard!

Rory Macnamara


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