Affordable housing has great social, economic and health impact
Globally, various researchers have been auditing the social and economic impact of affordable housing developments. In the USA, the Economic Policy Institute examined the Department of Labor’s Consumer Expenditure Survey to determine whether spending on food, clothing, health care and other necessities differed among families in affordable housing versus those in unaffordable housing. It found that households paying more than half of their income on housing costs commonly spent substantially less on essential expenses such as food, clothing and health care. Last year a 10-month study by a team led by Francois Viruly of the University of Cape Town showed that affordable housing that is designed to ensure healthy, integrated communities, rather than just to provide dwellings, results in an improvement in the quality of life for children and health. The study found that most respondents who had taken up such housing agreed that their access to public transport, the quality of their children’s lives, leisure, social life and health had all improved. More than 50% of households had also seen improvement in access to education and employment, while developers and users agreed that the units also had a positive impact on neighbourhood safety and security.
MSP Developments’ flagship affordable housing estate, Belladonna Estate in Blue Downs, is setting the pace for innovative affordable housing in South Africa. Riaan Roos, CEO of the MSP Group of Companies, says, “I am only too aware that affordable housing such as that which MSP provides gives the residents and their families benefits that go well beyond the mere provision of housing. We aim to – and are successful in – creating sustainable human settlements.”
Roos brings us up to date on progress to date: “Belladonna Estate will include a total of 740 homes (a combination of free-standing and semi-detached homes and apartments) once complete. At this stage, all civil services are complete, as well as the perimeter wall and electrified fencing. Of the homes, 232 have already been built, with another 63 currently under construction. It is currently envisaged that all construction within Belladonna Estate will be complete by the end of 2014.
The estate is conveniently situated close to the R102, R300 and N2 routes, as well as 500m from the planned Blue Downs rail corridor connecting Mfuleni, Blue Downs and Blackheath to the Phillipi-Khayelitsha and Strand-Bellville railway lines. It is only 1km from shops and schools, making it ideal for young professionals and families. It also has its own ‘central park’ area with children’s play equipment, as well as security features not normally associated with affordable housing, including a dedicated security patrol and fitted alarm in each home. In addition, all of the apartment complexes within the estate have their own remote-controlled access control gates and electrified fencing.
Roos says that the property market appears to be 15 to 20% livelier than last year, and that the unchanged interest rate bodes well for prospective purchasers. “Property ownership remains the cornerstone for healthy, well-balanced communities, and there is no better time than the present to invest in your family’s well-being.”