A new approach to housing and urban development

South Africans want to live in well-located parts of the cities, where jobs and economic opportunities are concentrated. Image credit: CDE

12 November 2020 – Small entrepreneurs are developing new rental opportunities in functional and connected neighbourhoods introducing a new approach to housing and urban development.  

Drawing on the findings of a new CDE report, Ann Bernstein, executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) points out that in many well-located suburbs, “small entrepreneurs are rebuilding South Africa’s cities, developing new, usually rental opportunities in already functional and connected neighbourhoods”.

“This is far better than the current RDP housing policy, which mainly locates people far from economic opportunities and contributes to high rates of unemployment and poverty,” says Bernstein.

This market-led approach is gaining traction across South Africa’s metros. South Africans want to live in well-located parts of the cities, where jobs and economic opportunities are concentrated.

“For many, location trumps ownership. It is often far better to rent a property in Orange Grove, than to own a house in Orange Farm,” says Bernstein.

CDE argues that it is time to think differently about housing and urban development. An enormous opportunity exists to adopt a better approach by focussing on the densification of existing suburbs. There are currently four and a half million freestanding privately owned houses in urban residential areas across South Africa with tremendous potential for densification.

If this became an increasingly prominent mode for producing new, low-cost housing options for the poor. “We could reduce the demand for new land in the metros over the next 25 years by around 70%,” says Bernstein.

Bernstein adds that South Africa needs to create cities of hope and inclusion. “It is vital that South Africa manages this phenomenon well. What the country needs are denser, vibrant, well-managed, low-income neighbourhoods and not inner-city slums,” says Bernstein.

To achieve that the country needs to:

  • • Move away from housing subsidies for individuals.
  • • Metros to focus on areas for residential densification, to expand infrastructure and to strengthen urban management capacity.
  • • Appropriate compliance rules and processes.
  • • National government to provide metros with technical and financial assistance, permitting the provision of free service connections and the waving of development contributions.
  • • More funding and support for commercial lenders.

The CDE report is a product of a partnership between CDE and Matthew Nell from Shisaka, one of the country’s leading housing experts, and Paul Jackson, CEO of TUHF, which funds and supports new housing entrepreneurs.

Please see the following:

  • Executive summary–  Building Better Cities: A new approach to housing and urban development
    Full report–  Building Better Cities: A new approach to housing and urban development

 

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