News - Environment: 'R34bn needed to house shack dwellers'

News - Environment: 'R34bn needed to house shack dwellers'

Taxpayers will have to fork out between R23-billion and R34-billion over the next 14 years to provide housing to the 190 000 families living in shacks.Durban's ambitious plans to eradicate the slums and the more than 200 informal settlements that dot eThekwini, by 2015, will cost national, provincial and municipal government R3,1-billion a year. Council contractors would then have to almost double the 16 000 homes that will have been built this financial year to meet the target.But the city's progressive housing and service provision programme has now become a double-edged sword, attracting thousands of aspirant home seekers into the city each year, housing head, Coglin Pather said.

In presenting Durban's housing delivery plan at city hall on Tuesday, Pather said millions would also have to be found to provide emergency housing as incidents of shack fires skyrocket each year."We are building between 16 000 and 18 000 homes each year, but we still have 20 000 new people coming into the city every year.At the same time we have had almost 11 000 people displaced by fire and disasters in 2008 alone," Pather said.In 2006, 3 368 people were displaced in 149 fire or flooding incidents.By far the biggest challenge now remains harnessing funding from national government structures, which have traditionally heavily subsidised local housing projects. Land shortageNormal low-cost homes now cost almost R100 000 each, and with 230 projects on the boil in the short term, at least R1,5-billion a year will be needed (R400-million a year from municipal coffers) to build a minimum of 16 000 homes a year.Faced with a serious land shortage, the city is now also planning for the general densification of projects, with low cost housing flats being built up to 10 storeys high, Pather said. "Most of the projects close to the city centre are going to be double storey, because that is the only way we can achieve the higher densification needed. But once we go higher more money is spent because concrete slabs and foundations have to be stronger," he said.

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