The DA believes that every South African family should have access to adequate shelter and supports the interpretation of section 26 of the constitution which requires that this right must be ‘progressively realised’. The DA will continue to offer state subsidised housing opportunities until the challenge has been met.
26 (1) Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing (2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right. (The Constitution of South Africa, 1996)
The DA considers government policy on human settlements to be an opportunity to make citizenship more inclusive.
Our human settlements policy has a number of distinguishing characteristics.
Firstly, we believe that public housing options should make greater use of the energies and commitment of the poor, rather than seeing them as passive recipients. Previous delivery, while statistically impressive, has failed to lay a solid foundation for a more inclusive society and has tended to trap the poor in new urban ghettos, far from work opportunities and in (limited) possession of decaying properties for which there is only the most limited market.
Secondly, human settlements policy cannot be separated from its immediate and related context, in particular issues of urban form (densification) and economic opportunity. The DA envisages a future in which we have overcome the spatial legacy of apartheid, where the urban poor live closer to work opportunities, where they regard their properties as the fruits of their own labour rather than gifts from the state, where amenities such as schools and clinics are readily accessible, and where communities are characterised by a mix of incomes and housing types. The planned densification of urban areas will be an aspect of all human settlements developments and public transport will be oriented towards servicing these.
Thirdly, housing policy must deliver a spectrum of support options for different parts of the housing market. By encouraging market-based solutions for housing provision in so-called ‘gap markets’ and for self-help initiatives, state resources can be freed up to service the poorest and most vulnerable. Differentiated housing lists will also allow DA governments to meet the needs of specific beneficiary groups through the appropriate mix of fully-subsidised housing, self-help initiatives, in-situ upgrades, site-and-service schemes and social housing. The use of flexible subsidies will allow users more choice in the manner in which their housing needs are being met.
In addition, we believe that there can make be much faster progress in addressing the housing backlog if we allow the private sector greater scope to become involved and to develop innovative models for housing delivery and affordable integrated housing developments.
For the DA, the ‘progressive realisation of adequate shelter’ hinges on:
- Achieving higher levels of economic growth to increase fiscal space, decrease unemployment and reduce the household indebtedness which currently constrains housing options;
- The removal of legal, administrative, operational and financial obstacles that currently impede access (including the failure to provide title deeds for state-subsidised housing);
- The effective provision of important social and economic goods such as land, water, sanitation and other key services;
- Effective partnership with the private sector; and
- A continued search for new, innovative housing models, building technologies, funding structures and community participation initiatives to keep improving the quality, affordability and flexibility of housing options in South Africa.