Call for increase in affordable rental housing stock

Human Settlements Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has called on the City of Johannesburg to increase the delivery of social housing units.

This is in response to the ever-increasing public demand, further exacerbated by in-migration to the economic hub of Gauteng.

Kubayi made the call during a community engagement and the launch of the Riverside View Social Housing Project in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, on Friday. The launch included the handover of the completed 180 units to beneficiaries.

The Minister was accompanied by Gauteng Human Settlements MEC, Lebohang Maile and Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda.

The Minister also led the sod turning ceremony to mark the commencement of construction of Phase 3 of the project, a Ward 96 mixed-income development. The development is meant to address social, economic, and spatial integration and substantially contribute to providing affordable rental accommodation in Johannesburg.

During an on-site briefing, Kubayi was encouraged to learn that since July, over 9 000 applications for housing were received by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO), which is an entity of the City of Johannesburg.

While substantial, the figure is not unique to the city noted the Minister, as the Housing Company Tshwane had in 2022, also revealed that it had received over 7 000 applications from potential tenants who had shown interest in the Townlands Social Housing Project.

“The demand for social housing is huge. As the government, mainly the City of Johannesburg and the Provincial Department of Human Settlements, working alongside the private sector, we must strengthen working relations to increase social housing units in the city and other areas to benefit communities,” she said.

The construction of Phase 3 is expected to commence in September 2023, and the Minister said it must be launched as soon as in January 2024.

Overall, the project is expected to deliver 1108 units on completion. It will cater for low-income families and individuals from various backgrounds, while also providing adequate and affordable, safe, and comfortable homes to qualifying applicants.

The Minister underscored that most people living in informal settlements do not qualify for fully subsidised government houses, as they fall outside the qualifying income bracket of R0-R3500.

“Thus, a need to provide them with decent and affordable accommodation, through a social housing programme that offers rental stock for those earning between R3501 and R22 000,” she said.

She added that “we have a Constitutional obligation to provide housing for all” while also calling on renters to pay their rent.

“This is a rental stock, not a rent-to-buy. By doing so, you will be assisting the government in working with the private sector to deliver more affordable rental units.”

Land identified for social amenities

Meanwhile, responding to community concerns about the lack of facilities in Diepsloot and surrounding areas, MEC Maile indicated that there are pieces of land that have been identified to provide social amenities, including schools and clinics.

Maile also outlined plans to further expand the scope to cater for more people, amidst an increasingly high number of people flocking into the province to seek better opportunities.

“Those people inevitably need a convenient and comfortable place to live, thus making it more urgent for private sector partners to come on board,” Maile said.

Government remains committed to delivering 18 000 units between 2019 and 2024. To date, over 11 000 units have been handed over to the rightful beneficiaries.

“The Department of Human Settlements is working with the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) to de-risk potential beneficiaries who find themselves not qualifying for various housing opportunities because of their credit ratings,” Kubayi said.

The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), an entity of the department and delivery agent for the Riverside View Social Housing Project, indicated that 14 projects in total have been completed and are ready to be handed over by the end of 2023. These account for 4700 units across the country.

Source: South African Government News Agency