Issue No. 35
Supporting the People's Housing Process
12 May 1998
For decades, the National Party had a deliberate policy of not supplying low-cost housing for the country’s poor. The ANC Government is dedicated to reversing the dire effects of this policy on small, poor communities and to making a major contribution to the alleviation of both homelessness and poverty. Housing Minister, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, has developed a National Housing Policy – outlined in a document “Supporting the People’s Housing Process” – which aims to mobilise, encourage and provide support to communities so that they can fulfil their own housing needs. This will assist people to gain access to land, secure tenure, services and technical assistance. The process will lead to empowerment and transfer of skills to individuals and communities.
What does this policy mean for our people?
The ANC is tackling the legacy of the NP’s Apartheid policy with new measures that will:
- mobilise and support community efforts
- facilitate access to subsidies
- promote the most cost effective use of resources
- regularise settlements and create secure tenure options
- build capacity and facilitate an optimum transfer of skills, economic upliftment and employment creation
- promote a culture of saving
- create mechanisms to link credit and savings.
Who will benefit?
The People’s Housing Process is directed at four broad categories of families, who are either:
- settled on fully-serviced sites with ownership rights (owners), or;
- settled on fully-serviced sites on a rental basis without ownership rights (non-owners), or;
- settled informally on land to which they have no claim, but have built some form of housing on the land (occupants), or;
- without land and reside in overcrowded hostels and backyard shacks without any security of tenure (landless people).
Funding and the People’s Housing Partnership Trust (PHP Trust)
The ANC Government will provide housing subsidies and facilitation and establishment grant funding for the establishment of housing support functions.
The PHP Trust will be the main thrust behind the implementation of the support programme, and international organisations, like USAID, have expressed keen interest in funding and technical support. The Trust will start a national capacity-building programme that will have five pillars:
- the creation, propagation and promotion of support for the programme
- simplifying and speeding up procedures for land delivery, finance and infra structural services
- assistance to community organisations which mobilise and support the programme
- developing and advancing technical and developmental support skills for government, NGOs, communities and the private sector
- simplifying and advancing Housing Support functions, maybe at a Housing Support Centre.
Decisions and monitoring
Decisions relating to projects under this policy will be assigned to the Provincial Housing Board in each Province. Provincial departments will be required to report on the implementation of the programme to the National Housing Minister, who will monitor progress.
How does the programme work in practice?
Because of its people driven nature a group of families or a CBO can form a legal entity themselves, or pro-actively, a local government or organisation interested in being the legal entity can identify a group of families as a target group on whose behalf they will act.
Support functions include:
- general advice around housing
- settlement planning
- preparation of a housing project subsidies application
- completion and submission of subsidy application forms
- advice on the purchase or manufacture of building materials
- design and draft houses to be constructed by families
- supervision of building work
- certification of building progress
- management of the operation of a Specified Account.
Facilitation Grants, Housing Subsidies and Establishment Grants
Facilitation grants are meant for preparatory work before a project application is submitted. They can be provided:
- to any group of families or community that will make it possible to establish itself as a legal entity
- to any group, organisation or local government for setting up a partnership with any group of families or community
- to a legal entity for the preparation of a project application and a business plan.
Approval of these grants rests solely with the PHB, which must determine the amount on merits, needs and requirements.
Housing subsidies are granted when the PHB has approved a Peoples Housing Support Project application. Each application should include a business plan.
Establishment grants are paid to the legal entity to fulfil its support functions. These grants can be used for the establishment of physical facilities, essential staff, consultants, and basic office and construction equipment.
The programme will create opportunities for poor families to boost the value of their subsidies by contributing their own resources and taking important decisions around the design and construction of their homes.