PRETORIA, Sept 30 The South African Department of Human Settlements says it plans to build one-and-a-half million housing units over the next five years.
The announcement came Monday after the premier of Western Cape Province, Helen Zille, questioned the current housing model in the country.
She said at the South African Housing Foundations’ International Conference at Somerset West, in Cape Town, that it was unrealistic to expect the State to provide free housing for all. “In no country in the world, least of all a country with challenges like ours, can the State provide a free house to everyone who wants one,” Zille added.
A report by the Financial and Fiscal Commission estimates that around 800 billion Rand (about 71 billion US dollars) would be needed if the country’s housing needs are to be addressed by 2020.
The Deputy Director-General for Human Settlements, Mbulelo Tshangana, said the department had a mandate to ensure that South Africans had access to a house, adding that “the right to housing is a constitutional right”.
He also explained that the reason many people were not receiving houses was because of the increase in unemployment.
“Currently you have a number of people who are unemployed, and if you look at our policy you qualify for free housing if you earn less that 3,500 Rand (a month), which means that we have a lot of people who earn less that R3,500.”
The homes will include upgraded informal settlements, hostels for miners, and various mixed income housing projects across the country.
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will be hosting a Human Settlements Indaba (gathering) next month to forge the second phase of the human settlements contract which was first introduced in 2005.