South Africa battles huge housing backlog

South Africa will spend 16 billion rand in the 2010-2011 financial year to build houses for the poor as part of a wider push, the housing minister said.

South Africa battles huge housing backlog

South Africa will spend 16 billion rand ($2.18 billion) in the 2010-2011 financial year to build houses for the poor as part of a wider push to reduce the size of slums by 2014, the housing minister said on Wednesday.

Millions of mainly black South Africans continue to live in tin shacks 16 years after apartheid ended. The deprivation causes frequent and violent protests against a government that has promised power, sanitation and homes for all.

"By 2014 we will have made significant inroads in our mission of ensuring sustainable human settlements and an improved quality of household life," minister Tokyo Sexwale told parliament during his budget vote speech.

The government had a target to build 220,000 houses a year over the next four years, as well as buying 6,250 hectares of land for settlements and providing for 600,000 new loans in the cheap housing sector, he added.

Preliminary figures suggest the government, whose housing programme has been accused of widespread corruption and shoddy construction, built 219,000 houses in the past year.

Many South Africans, some earning as little as 3,500 rand ($475) a month, are struggling to get mortgages from banks as the country emerges from its first recession in 17 years. "Irrespective of what sceptics may say, the record of this government on housing delivery speaks for itself. Since 1994, more than 2.3 million housing units have been made available for nearly 11 million people," Sexwale, a millionaire businessman- turned-politician, said.

South Africa's housing backlog has grown from 1.5 million in 1994 to around 2.1 million now, meaning as many as 12 million South Africans -- a quarter of the population -- were still in need of better shelter, Sexwale said.

Reuters

Last Mod: 21 Nisan 2010, 18:13
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