Better Living Challenge
The growing housing backlog, in Cape Town it is some 400 000, due to significant population growth has resulted in a shift in national government policy from the provision of RDP houses as the principle solution, to an incremental approach that supports the provision of serviced sites. The Western Cape Government is implementing this policy, and where houses are being built via the subsidy scheme, there is a shift from freestanding units to complexes. Practically, this means that the majority of people on the housing list will have to wait a very long time for a top structure. Further, there is no provision in the subsidy structure for governments to provide informal housing (except for emergency housing e.g. in event of shack fires) or for people to receive finance that would enable improvements to informal houses.
How should we respond to this? Simply accepting a future for the Western Cape with large portions of its population living in dismal conditions, particularly in winter, is not an option. Solutions need to be found to enable people to incrementally improve their homes and to have access to affordable housing as income levels improve. New alternative and green technologies, together with the design expertise that exists in the province, offers opportunities to make a real difference. An important accompaniment is financial innovation that offers poor and low income consumers access to finance, at affordable rates.
The Better Living Challenge will be a project of the Western Cape Government’s 110% Green initiative and its strategic focus on ‘green economy working for the poor’. The challenge will also be part of the World Design Capital 2014.
It will be a challenge/contest with two core objectives:
- Promote the development of sustainable housing solutions that improve lives, are affordable and offer people choices. The solutions need to address shack dwellings, backyard structures, RDP home and affordable housing.
- Enable designs/products to get to market.
It is important to ensure there is a comprehensive platform to the challenge that addresses design/innovation across the following:
- Technological design: Design of products and building materials that meet eco standards;
- Marketing and social innovation: creating an effective marketing platform of the products and solutions available;
- Financial Innovation: ensuring accessibility to finance to enable people to assume the responsibility of improving their homes; as well as innovation in state finance to leverage financial opportunities to improve lives.
Applications for the Better Living Challenge have not yet opened. More details will be made available in the coming months.