Shelter and Services

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This was the last paper in a session that had to be closed in a rush in order for participants to catch the bus for the city tour. Discussion was about all three papers presented in this session, and didn’t allow for much discussion of this paper – this is not to imply that this presentation was not relevant.

Suitability for the book

As a sub-Saharan African perspective, this presentation would be very relevant to the book. The power point presentation is well structured, and could easily be expanded into a written chapter, given some time on the side of the presenter. One could request some concrete examples be included.

  1. Responses to paper by delegates

See comments above for each of the presentations.

  1. Issues to be noted

    1. Issues for further research

The People’s Housing Process

  • How to make funding mechanisms for the people’s housing process more flexible.

  • How can eviction and relocation (when necessitated) be made more responsive.

  • How to incorporate poverty alleviation into a people’s housing process.

Housing rights

  • Analysis of the Modderklip case, in comparison to Grootboom and others.

  • Housing right in South Africa to be contextualised within Africa.

Social and rental housing

  • Need to capture the experience to date in social housing.

  • How to support a private rental system (forms of financial and technical assistance). A need to document the new emergence of rows of formally constructed back yard room (e.g in Ivory Park).

  • Low income housing cooperatives in Zimbabwe need to be documented and considered for relevance to SA.

  • Bulawayo’s Millennium Low Income Rental Housing Scheme (for relocation from hostels) should be documented and considered for relevant to SA hostel situation.

Housing finance

  • Finance mechanisms for financing housing room by room.

  • Housing finance approaches in countries like Ghana and Kenya (mentioned by Cas Coovadia) should be documented and considered for relevance to SA).

Service delivery

  • Need to document the Porto Alegre example of public-community partnerships on service delivery, and consider this for relevance to SA.

Research coordination

  • Need for effective coordination between similar research initiatives (locally and internationally), and good dissemination.

    1. Recommended policy amendments

People’s Housing Process

  • A focus is needed on good government, not just good governance.

  • Flexible, process-oriented funding mechanisms must be found (beyond breaking the rules), to make a people’s housing process responsive to the reality of the poor.

  • Ensuring housing policy is aligned with the principles of the People’s Housing Process.

Housing rights

  • Search for an appropriate policy response to Grootboom needs to be ongoing.

  • Relocation needs to be done in a responsive way. Need to find appropriate relocation packages, that also allow for choice, nut just buy-in.

Social and rental housing

  • It was asked, whether the current approach to social housing is still appropriate. It needs to be demand-driven, yet the demand is mainly for ownership.

  • In terms of getting banks to lend to social housing institutions, a carrot and stick approach is needed.

  • Back yard shacks/rental units need to be seen as a form of housing that can be improved, as there will always be a percentage of households that want to rent.

  • Need for a rental housing to complement home-ownership – this requires a re-focus in policy.

Subsidies and other housing finance

  • It was found that the subsidy bands are no longer relevant, due to inflation.

  • Should the capital subsidy for housing eventually be phased out altogether, or substantially restructured, so as not to skew the market?

  • Finance policy needs to be closely matched to housing policy. If incrementalism in our housing policy is to be emphasised, one will require a policy framework for incremental finance (room by room).

  • Housing and finance policy must show confidence in the bankability of the poor.

Service delivery

  • A policy response may be needed to the demand from the new social movements for free services. There was a comment that communities have little opportunity to voice their demands.

  • Policy on service delivery should incorporate public-community partnerships.

  • Policy needs to respond to the fact that municipal mandates are under-funded.

  • Need to create sub-national debt markets for financing of service delivery.

    1. Implementation guidelines

People’s Housing Process

  • Richard Martin’s paper gives practical ways of building support, control and regulation into a self-help / people’s housing process. Implementation agencies need to be truly bottom-up.

  • Marketing or promoting the People’s Housing Process, so that it can withstand the competition (or undermining) from developers.

Social and rental housing

  • The need to develop guidelines for the improvement of back yard rental units, including mechanisms for financial assistance to landlords.

  • Local authorities have to recognise back yard tenants as part of the citizenry that need to be serviced (including refuse collection, electricity connection, sanitation, etc.). A level of regulation over this sector is also required (guidelines for municipalities would be relevant, if not legislation).

  • Any guidelines on the management of rental housing must stress the importance of integrity of data.

Housing finance

  • Financing housing room-by-room: guidelines are needed for such schemes.

Service delivery

  • Guidelines are needed on how to package housing finance on a project-basis (multi-dimensional).

  • If public-community partnerships for service delivery were to be considered, guidelines would be required for both community organisation and public authorities.

  1. Copy of rapporteur report-back (8 October)

Report back from parallel session on Shelter and Services

Rapporteur: Marie Huchzermeyer


Overlap with other sessions:
poverty, governance/management, land are all central to

making shelter and services work for the poor”

Who are the poor? e,g, the lady called Zanele, who only has two goats to bring to the bank as collateral

(we need to understand who they are, what their capacities are, and we need to tailor systems that work for them)

Its hard to do this if

  • no local building material industry (reliance on imports);

  • property rights are insecure;

  • the macro-economy is in crisis – fluctuating inflation rates in Ghana, exponential interest rates in Zimbabwe… (however: Bulawayo in Zimbabwe has 100% coverage of waterborne sewerage!)

*Note: the MEC expressed interest in learning more from aspects of the Bulawayo experience.

We discussed four different types of shelter

  • individualised (assisted self-help, presumably in home-ownership, though occupancy permits in Zambia)

  • collective (referred to as “social housing” in SA)

  • back yard/private rental

  • Inner city quality housing (through Gauteng Partnership Fund) – key lesson: need to package finance partnerships on a project-by project basis.

Each shelter type has specific challenges for

  • finance

  • services

  • governance/management

Similar challenges: Assisted self-help (PHP) and collective housing (Social Housing) both require

  • special skills – implications for training institutions (Wits)!

  • customised management systems

  • effective partnerships

  • both rely on customised subsidies


The question of Back yard shacks/

  • a sign of housing shortage, to be eradicated?


  • a form of relief to the housing crisis?

A percentage of the population will always need to rent

  • non-qualifiers of subsidy

  • people on waiting lists

  • temporary migrants

However, SA and Zimbabwe have been selling off their public rental stock (yet also East Block influence over policy in Zimbabwe – have vibrant housing coops!).

Note that private rental fills this gap and is an important form of income generation.
(yet in Soweto very poor standard of shelter & services – in newer townships a better quality of backyard rental is emerging … but how are the services dealt with? Local government needs to respond to this important form of densification/compaction – “support”!)

Note: there will be less and less available land, therefor back yard rental will become more and more attractive.

Irony: social housing (mostly a form of rental tenure) is targeted at a higher income sector that has home-ownership aspirations.
There is a role for government specifically in making shelter and services work for the poor

  • assisted self-help housing

  • service delivery (contested terrain)

  • urban land reform (which is more than just urban land delivery) (contested terrain)

  • financing shelter and services

(or not? do we believe our society will “normalise” to the extent that subsidies can be done away with? Do subsidies per se distort markets, or is their release in SA simply badly designed? … here we needed input from the session on vulnerability)

Note: Zimabwe had to do away with its housing subsidies when it started lending form WB.
Note: the low income housing finance debate in Africa has only just started (very few countries have a low income housing finance system!) African Union on Housing Finance is intent on lobbying African governments.
There is a role for local government,

but: don’t decentralise without also decentralising resources!

Infrastructure Finance Coroporation (INCA) asks how best to finance municipalities (for service delivery).

- looking to the financial market – note: there is a range of debt mechanisms, but micro- and macro-economic conditions apply.

Roles beyond government:

  • important role of the courts in a context where the poor struggle to access land/shelter

(*note: Alioune Badiane was requesting that SA sets up a system of monitoring evictions, and through that, interpretations of housing rights, need to link up with WB office in Pretoria – monitoring of Cities without Slums)

  • role of social mobilisation (AFP) in pressurising government in areas where it is not making shelter and services work for the poor. Victory: Eskom stopped cutting off electricity in Soweto.

  • Can greater cross-sector social mobilisation (including lawyers – see TAC) lead to more radical judgements that lead to permanent rights to land/shelter for unlawful occupiers, so that their process of consolidation can proceed? (did Grootboom lead to as significant a message to the poor as it did to analysts, officials, policy-makers … any difference on the ground?)

Public-private partnerships

(mentioned in relation to social housing: note that banks are still not partners in the SA social housing sector)

  • for services delivery (Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit - MIIU):

Public-private partnership (PPP)

(note global context of low appetite in this form of

partnership, but still promoted by WB)

In SA current emphasis on public-public partnerships,

and importance of community participation (reference to

Porto Alegre) – users must have an opportunity to

make their demand heard.
Challenges for agencies financing housing for the poor:

  • appropriate research (see African Union for Housing Finance – research on informal settlements in African countries … *Alioune Badiane expressed interest in this, re current UN-Habitat emphasis on slums).

  • recognise: by necessity, the poor are good financial managers (they know how to manage scarcity)

  • develop systems that enable incremental building

  • help the poor shift their resources from financing for death (funeral insurance) to financing for life (housing credit)

  • Marry housing finance with housing policy

  • Hire a director with technical and banking expertise, and a big heart!


Additional detail:

Role of government in assisted self-help housing: practical lessons
Appropriate government for the poor – ensuring a balance between freedom, control, support … user friendly,

i.e. open week-ends and evenings;

plan approval done on site (management and

control decentralised to the field);

Control of standards applies only to

- structure

- ventilation

- room size

Temporary shelter built with the roofing material for the formal house.
Constraints in government

  • obstacles: bureaucracy’s control over

  • its staff (reporting structure/…more recently “performance management” – same in SA’s PHP)

  • its funds

“For a system to be user friendly, it must break the rules”

Relevant comparison with PHP in SA

(But note: people first have to access legal sites, before they can participate in PHP)

  • critical importance of the facilitation grant and technical assistance

  • Its all about getting the best (customised) deal for the poor!

  • Yet, has bureaucracy adapted sufficiently?


  1. Suitability of the chapters for proposed book

See detailed comments above for each of the presentations. Given that at least half of the papers are specifically about the South African experience, one might consider structuring the book in two parts, one international (or the south, or Africa), the other on South Africa. If most of the relevant papers are to be included, and chapters to be a reasonable length (at least 5 000 words) then one might even have to consider two volumes, i.e. two books on the same theme, one South African, the other international. In my view there would be a market for both. The benefit of having only one book though is the dialogue (even if mainly editorial) one could achieve between the international and the local chapters.

  1. Concluding comments

The shelter and services session was extremely useful, and it would be a pity if the experience and thinking that was presented and discussed were not disseminated further. It was particularly relevant to consider housing and service delivery together, as much can be learnt from the efforts in these two sectors (re financing, regulating, governing, alleviating poverty, role of civil society, etc.), and if anything, more collaboration is required between them. The African perspective that was incorporated through a number of papers was also extremely useful, forcing the participants to consider a wider range of options and situations. It was also beneficial to have policy issues considered in relation to the challenges of implementation. The case studies that were presented added reality to the delivery challenges, and allowed for comparison with other countries. It would be good if this initiative could be taken forward in the form of a book, but also in the form of concrete policy discussions, the creation of research initiatives, and the development of guidelines where appropriate.

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