Urban Fold

A Look at Housing in South Africa

Posh gated communities are juxtaposed with shanty towns in South Africa, where a constitutional housing guarantee is seen by many as a far-off dream.

"Despite the new Constitution's guarantee of access to housing for all, the stark class disparities in the townships that ring all the country's largest cities reveal the uneven process of remedying the inequalities institutionalized under apartheid, as a small number have benefited from "black empowerment" programs while the vast majority are still waiting their turn. When the African National Congress (ANC) came to power in South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994, more than 7 million people-almost all of them black-lacked adequate housing, according to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), itself a product of the new constitution. The ANC pledged to change this."

"South Africa's Department of Housing now claims on its Web site that it has built almost 2.4 million houses in the past twelve years. 'Our annual production has grown from 252,000 (which in itself was a record we were proud of), to 272,000 (and still counting), for the past year,' says Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. 'We need to tell this good news, it portends a good future for millions still trapped in poverty, and it attests to the fact that the inhospitable firmament is clearing, and there will be better days.'"

"But while most South Africans say there has been progress under the ANC government, some are growing impatient with what they see as the slow pace of housing delivery, and a growing number worry that the promise of universal access to housing will not be met."

Full Story: A Housing Tour in South Africa

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