Housing needs fast-tracking

South Africa’s proposed national housing agency is needed to fast-track housing delivery in the next two years and resolve problems of slow pace of approvals by municipalities and provincial governments for affordable low-income housing, says Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Legislation would be put to parliament this year to provide a legal framework for the agency, Sisulu told a media briefing at Parliament.
Sisulu said the new agency would need to work closely with developers and the banking sector to accelerate delivery of housing. South Africa needed to build 500,000 houses a year - but instead it was achieving somewhere in the region of 265,000 this financial year.
The private sector was producing some 60,000 housing units.
The housing department budget was being fully utilised, she said, noting that she had been "nice" to Finance Minister Trevor Manuel but that she could not expect her budget to be doubled.
Noting that it sometimes took three years to get the appropriate approvals from municipalities and provincial government, she pointed to the example of the N2 Gateway project in Cape Town where after a long wait the city had only in the last few days provided a land availability agreement for further housing development.
She said the agency would need to source other funding methods - other than state funding - such as attracting international agencies that could provide housing loans and be able to find "innovative ways of inclusionary housing".
In a statement the housing minister reported South Africa’s housing backlog as 2.5 million houses - with 200,000 houses added to this figure each year.
At a delivery rate of just under 500,000 the backlog would be eradicated by 2014 at a total estimated cost of 345 billion rand.
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