New energy in delivery of social housing mandates
MAIN IMAGE: Mmamoloko Kubayi, Minister of Human Settlements; Busisiwe Nzo, chairperson of the SHRA; Dewalt Koekemoer, SHRA acting CEO
The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) welcomed the measures announced at a recent media briefing by the Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, which aim to expedite the implementation of diverse social housing and other projects under the Department’s portfolio, and to broaden access to social housing for more South Africans.
Commenting on the media briefing, which was held on 25 March 2022, Busisiwe Nzo, chairperson of the SHRA, said that the organisation’s newly appointed council, together with the SHRA executives, is most excited to be working with the Department to develop a social housing sector that is not only more transformed and sustainable, but also inclusive for many more South Africans who are in dire need of quality social housing.
At the meeting Kubayi said the speed with which South Africans change the lives of the poor will remain an important measure of how well we are doing as Human Settlements team and more importantly, how well our democracy is doing.
“The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is about creating a sustainable urban environment that is inclusive and accommodative of all who migrate to cities regardless of race or class. In our country, South Africa, we must tackle the challenge of rapid urbanization in a context of a history of Apartheid, whose pattern of development was the exclusion of the majority from cities through social and economic exclusion and spatial segregation.
“Our work as a department, responsible for Human Settlements, is geared towards ensuring that our cities are more inclusive, liveable and have a sustainable system of integrating the poor into cities to bring them closer to economic opportunities. Often, when we attempt to build integrated settlements that include social housing to luxurious apartments, we find resistance from the well-to-do even from those who claim to be the champions of the of the poor,” she said.
Kubayi also recently referred to social housing issues when she mentioned that since the last adjustment of the qualification criteria in 2018, tenants are struggling to pay their rentals due to inflation and substantial increases in utility costs.
“We have revised the bands for households earning from R1850 to R22 000 gross monthly income to qualify as opposed to the previous qualification criteria for household income from R1500 to R15 000. This will align with the broader definition of the affordable housing programmes such as FLISP.”
“Minister Kubayi noted at the briefing that the SHRA is one of five department-aligned entities to have had new boards appointed in order to stabilise them and ensure that they are capacitated to deliver on their mandates,” said Nzo, who has been in the profession for close on 30 years and is deeply passionate about the development of the social housing sector.
“The SHRA’s council is composed of a group of highly dynamic leaders, who remain committed to ensuring that the organisation delivers on, and takes forward, our mission of inclusive growth in the social housing sector, while creating homes in better living environments for the people of South Africa,” explained SHRA acting CEO, Dewalt Koekemoer.
He added that the SHRA also greatly welcomed Kubayi’s call at the media briefing for social project blockages and holdups to be identified and addressed urgently, and for the fast-tracking of sector service delivery across the country. Koekemoer said that the revision of the social housing qualification criteria to accommodate households earning between R1 850 and R 22 000 per month, would assist in overall affordability and align the programme to the broader definition of affordable housing. The announcement is to be applauded as it will further assist in improving affordability and access to quality social housing to more households .
“We believe that the amendments announced by the Minister will assist in addressing the numerous challenges faced by the sector, reduce wastage, and ensure that the delivery of housing in this country is meaningfully accelerated,” he added.
According to Nzo, prior to the appointment of the new SHRA Council, the organisation was under the guidance of an Interim Council for two years, which provided invaluable strategic guidance during this time.