Housing Poverty in South Africa

Building strong, resilient communities to alleviate inequalities
  • 695 people served in FY18 695 people served in FY18
  • 6,589 volunteers hosted in FY18 6,589 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: new homes, community development & advocacy Projects: new homes, community development & advocacy

Founded in 1996, our team fighting housing poverty in South Africa works with all people to give a hand up in building homes, communities and hope.

Based on the firm belief that decent shelter provides the greatest opportunity for families to break the cycle of poverty in SA, our self-funded office works in partnership with all stakeholders at all levels (from central government to local communities) to serve the poor and marginalised in the country.

Huge inequalities in SA

Housing poverty in South Africa reflects the inequalities in wealth that still exist between the country’s rich and poor. Some homes rival the most imposing in the world; there are mansions, security villages, golf estates and neat suburban rows.

But tin shanties, slums and other ‘informal’ or squatter settlements blight most South African cities and towns. In 2010, there were some 2,700 slums, accommodating over 1.2 million households.

Read more about housing poverty in SA

Our work in the country

We are dedicated to the long-term and sustainable development of South Africa’s low-income housing sector. Using holistic interventions that emphasise a partnership approach to achieve safe, decent and affordable shelter, we focus on strengthening the well-being and future of families.

At the same time, we work on building the resilience and capacity of communities to improve and self-manage themselves overall living conditions and well-being for all residents.

Our collaborative approach

This includes improving the markets in which communities are located and the systems, policies and regulations which govern them. By incorporating…

This includes improving the markets in which communities are located and the systems, policies and regulations which govern them.

By incorporating collaborative advocacy and partnership with the government on policy development and implementation, we are able to extend our impact to the broader South African housing sector – making the dream of thriving integrated human settlements a reality for low-income families.

Training leaders, building resilience

Our local team focusses its capacity building programme at two levels: beneficiaries and leadership. Workshops are organised and tailored to suit the project specific context and are facilitated using a participatory and experiential approach.

Assessment and evaluation tools are used to gather information which will help to assess the impact of each workshop and to further refine the education curriculum. Coaching of beneficiaries empowers them to self-reliantly maintain their community, therefore encouraging future growth and self-development.

supporting children south africa charity

Advocacy & lobbying

We are ideally placed to have an impact on the development of sustainable and integrated human settlements across cities and towns in South Africa. In advocacy, we are currently championing the issues of community participation in informal settlement upgrading and formal housing developments.

Key facts & figures

  • Population: 54.3 million
  • Urbanisation: 64.8% live in cities
  • Life expectancy: 63.1 years
  • Unemployment rate: 26.8%
  • Population living below poverty line: 53.8%

Tailored strategies

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We are acutely aware of the economic realities and livelihood strategies that poor people engage in. In order to be responsive to these, our "Community Development Facilitators" seek to engage beneficiaries in the decision making processes around community facilities and economic activities (skills training and enterprise development programmes).

Understanding local communities, their available assets and finding sustainable livelihood plans informs our development programmes and new services such as microloans. This way we co-produce knowledge of the community with the locals which in turns empowers residents to take ownership of their development.

Sustainable communities

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Partnership formation is at the core of the Habitat’s model to ensure sustainable development. The "Community Action Plan" that has been developed will identify the gaps in terms of service provision and support.

As a facilitator in the process, we seek to identify suitable partners to address these areas that lack access to basic services, are often disregarded by the private sector and are generally under-resourced. Strategies are developed by the leadership committee to implement the special community initiatives related to and connected to the development of socially and economically thriving communities.

Partnering with local actors

Partnerships between the community, the private sector, governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the sector are critical for the transfer of skills and expertise into the existing urban environment and to the development of social cohesion.

Analysing all the local actors involved and the power relations at play are conducted to encourage strong linkages with these entities and to bring about better development strategies for whole areas where everyone affected has a say in what they need and wish to achieve.
Read about our impact in Mfuleni