South Africa’s housing shortfall stands at approximately two million homes. At the same time, the country needs sustainable job creation as well as transformation.

Dewalt Koekemoer. Image credit: SHRA

Dewalt Koekemoer. Image credit: SHRA

The social housing industry has the potential to contribute by supporting new and upcoming social housing institutions (SHIs) and helping them roll out new social housing developments. Considering this, the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) has implemented new measures which will assist and support the new SHIs to enter the market, equipped with the right skills.

“There are many opportunities for people in the social housing sector. With the SHRA’s new Compliance Accreditation & Regulations operational framework, we are creating a more supportive, enabling, and inclusive accreditation process for SHIs,” explains Dewalt Koekemoer, Acting CEO of the SHRA.

SHIs are non-profit companies that develop, own, and manage affordable rental accommodation. They are accredited by the SHRA, to which they report on a regular basis. “After informative stakeholder engagement sessions, we introduced the framework in June this year. It has enabled us to work more effectively and in closer collaboration with applicants,” says Koekemoer.

Additionally, the framework enables the SHRA to assist institutions to build their operations in a sustainable way. “Managing a social housing project is no easy task. There are a number of moving parts and always new challenges to overcome throughout the project lifecycle. Our policy provides support in a way that sets SHIs up for success,” says Koekemoer.

“We also aim to create more awareness of the social housing industry and promote the opportunities of this sector to the designated groups. We now spend more time investing in SHI applicants, training them, and fostering inclusive growth of the industry.” These inclusive growth initiatives aim to share the success of social housing projects with the wider value chain of transformed sub-contractors. “It no longer is just about the project and the SHI – it is a bigger network that also considers all the role players involved, from cleaning crews to electricians and other subcontractors to security companies.”

Helping new entrants overcome challenges

Koekemoer reports that many new SHIs have the same challenges – access to land, and access to debt funding. To assist with overcoming these issues, the SHRA has started working with municipalities and local government departments to ensure that accredited transformed entities can enter partnerships with municipalities to facilitate land availability. “You cannot expect these new and upcoming SHIs to pay for land out of their pocket when it would be years before it starts generating income,” he says.

Additionally, the SHRA’s SHI incubation project is now also supported by the National Housing Finance Corporation (soon to be the Housing Development Bank) so that SHIs can be capacitated to qualify for debt funding.

Finally, for SHI applicants who do not receive accreditation and where demand for social housing exists with limited delivery agents in those areas, there is a new pre-accreditation qualification category which helps these institutions build their capacity to a point where they can get accredited. “This means you will not be turned away if you do not meet our accreditation criteria. Our new CAR Operational Framework has helped us make strides to being an open and more transparent organisation that can embrace new entrants in the market,” concludes Koekemoer.