Preconditions for housing consolidation : towards a suitable package of support for incremental housing in South Africa : a case study of eThekweni municipality.
This thesis set out to examine the application of the supporter paradigm in the incremental housing process in South Africa, and the way support for housing consolidation has been orchestrated in practice. It aimed to determine the forms of housing support that constitute preconditions of housing consolidation in the South African low income housing context. The supporter paradigm upon which post-apartheid housing policy is based takes its cue from the proponents of self-help housing, and the institutions that have entrenched it internationally. It outlines the housing support actions that would enable poor households to achieve housing adequacy incrementally . In South Africa, such households would constitute housing subsidy beneficiaries, seeking to achieve housing 'depth' through the process of housing consolidation, where the national subsidy programme would primarily only have delivered housing 'width' , or housing starts. Contrary to the expectations of the policy, the pace of housing consolidation has been slow, and the standard of the resultant housing poor. The thesis ' point of departure is that households which have not improved their dwellings, or whose improvement efforts have only yielded temporary housing, continue to experience housing inadequacy, despite subsidy support. This outcome contradicts the policy 's goal of enabling households to reach housing adequacy. That subsidy support is but one of a number of supports needed to enable housing consolidation is acknowledged by current policy. This study critiques the way support has been lent to households in consolidating situations conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, the study analyses the international and South African policy discourse around the support approach to housing delivery, as well as looks at some precedents in housing support practice internationally for useful lessons. Empirically, the study makes use of qualitative and quantitative research instruments to examine and analyse the housing support experience in three different types of incremental housing projects, located in eThekwini municipality, in the KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa . The housing support findings are analysed within the context of what both the housing policy and the study 's key informants consider to be a holistic packaging of housing support, that should be attendant to any incremental housing project. On the basis of the study's findings, housing support practice is critiqued on two levels. At policy level, the study reveals that the foundation of South African housing policy in a neoliberal context, in the absence of support targeted at improving the incomes of the mainly very poor beneficiaries, sets them up for failure in their housing improvement efforts. At the implementation level, the study identifies three key areas of weakness. Firstly, there is absence of strategic direction at the National level, resulting in the treatment of housing support as an optional function by the housing implementation levels. Secondly, most housing authorities experience difficulty in understanding what housing support entails, because of its multifaceted nature and lack of specificity . Consequently, the support attendant to incremental housing projects is ad hoc and intermittent in nature, and is delivered on the basis of how the particular authorities or project staff understand housing support. As a result, in any given project, housing support is rarely comprehensively packaged. It is also largely an unfunded mandate. Thirdly, at project level, the thesis establishes that many of the problems that confront consolidating households can be attributed to projects that are poorly planned from the outset, and that support in this regard lies in the development of capacity at municipal level, to plan projects that have the potential to be consolidated in the first instance. As its main contribution, the thesis develops a multidimensional, comprehensive framework for packaging housing support. One dimension specifies upfront, the support elements considered important in the pre- and post-subsidy phases of the project, as well as in the project implementation phase. The exact form these would take in any project would be informed by the project and beneficiary characteristics. The second dimension packages the institutional roles for housing support, thereby removing the institutional ambivalence towards the housing support function, and specifying the institutional and role changes needed to enable housing support to occur. The third dimension packages support according to project type, indicating which forms of support apply to all types of projects, and which to specific modes of delivery in the South African context. The study concludes that while current housing policy is clear on the need to support households to meet consolidation goals, specificity of both process and actions needs to be lent to housing support practice. The multidimensional support package developed by the study is deemed a useful tool in providing such specificity, and clarifying how support for housing consolidation in South Africa should be set up in both policy and practice.