Minister Delivers Closing Address at Housing Conference
This year’s conference is the fifth South African Housing Federation Conference that I have had the honour to attend and over the years we have covered a range of housing related topics. My department has contributed financially, has had a yearly exhibit and many officials have also given presentations.
One of the intentions of the SAHF Conference is to bring leaders in the field of human settlements delivery together, and the question I need to ask as the executive authority of the Department of Human Settlements, is whether the investment of time and money into the conference has added any value to the Western Cape Government's capacity for service delivery. One way to make this assessment is to look back over the years and see if there have been any major interventions, or deliveries, related to the themes of each of the conferences. As I only have 20 minutes, I will not be able to cover everything, but will just touch on some of the more significant.
In 2009, the theme was Spotlight on housing for 2010. Some of the department's commitments, which were honoured, included the following:
- We committed to embark on an urgent land audit. The land audit has been completed and the department-owned property register is now updated annually.
- We committed to transfer land to the City of Cape Town for flood relief. To date, five sites have been provided for flood relief by my department, but unfortunately could not be fully utilised due to resistance from communities, through NIMBY, or ‘Not in my back yard’ attitudes.
- We committed to increase funding for the People’s Housing Process (PHP). To date, allocation for PHP has increased from 25% of the budget in 2010 to 41% in 2013/2014.
- We committed to develop a province-wide plan for in-situ upgrading. An Informal settlement database was compiled in 2010 and completed in 2011, and the Access to Basic Services programme was launched in 2012, which is on track to ensure that everyone in the Western Cape has access to basic services, according to the national minimum standards, by 2014.
- We committed to work with the City and the HDA to develop Joe Slovo Phase 2 in a manner which will not require mass evictions. To date, development is continuing without mass evictions.
- We committed to introduce a municipal housing demand database support programme to ensure that accurate, tamper-proof data is used to select beneficiaries for human settlements projects. To date, the Western Cape Housing Demand Database has been developed, and by 31 March 2013 all 24 non-metro municipalities’ data will have been included in the provincial database.
- We committed to provide affordable housing through market mechanisms and densifying suburbs. Our Pride, in the Blue Downs areas of Cape Town, is a completed affordable housing development with Gap Market housing options. Planning for Social Housing includes restructuring zones being developed for Oudtshoorn, Knysna, George, Bitou and Mossel Bay.
In 2010, the theme was Green Technology for Sustainable Human Settlements:
- We took a bold step in the Delft 3 and 5 housing project and stipulated in the tender that Alternate Building Technologies (ABTs) must be used. The Cape Town-based project is a country-wide first, and will deliver 1 952 energy efficient houses when complete.
In 2011, the theme was Social Housing the Way Forward:
As I have said many times, the provision of free housing is unsustainable as we are creating poverty traps that are an increasing drain on municipal resources and do not contribute towards rates and taxes. At some point, the drain will become too great and municipalities will no longer be able to sustain these settlements. This is why the future of housing must include options where people contribute and social housing is one such option.
Since 2010, 939 social housing units have been completed, at a cost of around R311 million. By 2020, we expect more than another 6 000 houses to be delivered. This increased in numbers clearly shows the increased focus on the social housing programme.
In 2012, the theme was Building Capacity for Sustainable Delivery:
We are predominantly reliant on municipalities as our primary implementing agents, as they create project plans for their regions and appoint and manage contractors. Yet we were finding that often they didn’t have the professional expertise to develop credible housing plans or to implement them and so we committed to the Appointment of Professional Resource Teams, or PRTs to ensure that municipalities can plan and manage long and complex pipelines. To date, eight PRTs have been appointed and are actively assisting with planning and implementation of projects.
The Portfolio Management Office, or PMO, continued to mature in 2012/13, with further refinement of standard operating procedures relating to project information. A big advantage of the PMO is that there is one central repository for all project-related information, which means that officials don’t have to track down the project file to look something up.
Municipalities that have the capacity to operate independently as housing developers are being supported in the accreditation process, which will enable them to develop and approve their own housing plans. We are working closely with the City of Cape Town in the accreditation process, and PRTs are also working with municipalities in the Eden and Cape Winelands districts to draft Accreditation Business Plans.
During the period 1 April 2012 - 28 February 2013, 101 housing consumer education sessions were held in various municipalities and 2 974 consumers attended these sessions. During the month of January 2013, 41 staff members from various departments and private companies were trained as Housing Consumer Education trainers through an accredited training programme.
Training is organised to transfer technical skills to the unemployed in communities. It is with this in mind that the department entered into discussions to the Construction Education and Training Authority, or CETA, to fund a request by the City of Cape Town for assistance to train 80 apprentices in the different disciplines of bricklaying/ plastering, plumbing, electrical and 30 skills programmes in carpentry and painting and decorating. R10 million has been allocated to the department by CETA to fund the above training.
The Women in Human Settlements Programme encompasses a programme aimed at targeting women involved in construction or related activities to assist them through capacity-building and employment opportunities and development and support of women contractors has been enabled through projects in our PHP programme.
In order to capacitate municipalities in their responsibilities to maintain credible housing lists and to allocate housing opportunities fairly, the department has implemented the Housing Demand Data Improvement Programme (HDDIP) and Beneficiary Selection Framework. This has resulted in credible housing lists in the municipalities of the Western Cape and also beneficiary selection that prioritises the elderly and those with special needs.
Finally, this year’s theme is “Public Private Partnerships”. The theme for 2013 speaks to all the themes of the previous four years, for none of the successes of the previous years would have been possible without partnership with private companies. I look forward to the continued success of the SAHF conferences and the continued addition of value to the department.