15/07/2014 – ACDP welcomes Minister’s commitment to encourage private sector investment in low-income housing

ACDP Parliament
Human Settlements – Budget Vote
Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and Whip

ACDP welcomes Minister’s commitment to encourage private sector investment in low-income housing

“With Government shifting the responsibility of providing low-income housing to certain municipalities in line with NDP recommendations – the question the ACDP is asking is will the budget follow the mandate and is that budget adequate to the task of ensuring relevant capacity to get the job done?  It is at a municipal level where planning takes place so it makes sense that the responsibility should follow the plans – sadly many sceptics will see this as just another opportunity for corruption, incompetence and mal-administration – we hope not!

The ACDP has always championed the concept of government closest to the people being best placed to respond more accurately to the needs of people and we support moves away from central control – local government however – does not have the best track record and the oversight and monitoring of budgets for the purpose of providing low-cost housing must remain the responsibility and top priority of the department at a National Level.

Crucial projects meant to provide houses and toilets to many in rural areas and informal settlements – we are told – have stalled. This appears to be endemic throughout the entire housing sector, with provincial governments among the chief perpetrators with under-performance and failure to spend.  Hon Minister, we hear the department saying this is a result of long procurement processes, the lack of bulk infrastructure and lack of identification of suitable land for human settlement development but people do not want excuses – they want houses and services.

Hon Minister you face a significant challenge and the ACDP would like to see you succeed.  We welcome government recognition that relocating informal settlements is not always a solution and governments response to calls to provide interim servicing or emergency relief including water, sanitation and solid waste removal in informal settlements.

The rapid assessments and categorisations of informal settlements – meant to assist municipalities and provinces to better understand and respond to the immediate needs of residents – are also a positive step forward – implementation however does need to be improved.  Some organisations submit very low tender prices which can only result in limited inquiries among residents and a neglect of technical aspects of the work. Other organisations submit high prices to cover detailed technical studies in excess of what is required – in time hopefully responses to tenders and the consequent products will improve.

The ACDP would like to bring to your attention Hon Minister, the issue of subsidies for Special Needs Group Housing (SNGH) for orphans, victims of domestic abuse, the disabled, older people, trafficked persons and others. To provide improved group care and shelter for persons with special needs Non-Profit Organisations, (NPOs) are in need of urgent availability of housing subsidies.  In most provinces NPOs have limited or no funding support in this regard. I am told this issue did come before the Housing Portfolio Committee late last year and the Department of Social Development (DSD) was also very supportive however the process remains slow.  If the Department of Human Settlements opts for a new research and policy development process it will take years to complete with delays causing frustration for those most affected.

The ACDP welcomes the grant introduced to fast-track eradication of bucket toilets and remove 270 thousand bucket toilets from homes in formal and informal areas in the next two years. We also welcome the Minister’s commitment to creating an environment which encourages private sector investment in low-income housing projects.

The ACDP will support this budget.”

-ENDS-

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