SA Government Allocates R4.6-bn to Upgrade Informal Settlements

Informal settlement
Informal settlement - Enkanini with mountain and blue sky on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, Western Cape province, South Africa. MrNovel / Shutterstock.com

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu say R4.6 billion has been allocated to provinces and metro municipalities to upgrade over 300 informal settlements.

Sisulu said this when she outlined spending priorities for the department during a virtual sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

“Together with Provinces, we will work with communities and municipalities to incrementally upgrade over 300 informal settlements and improve the living conditions of households.

“Our policy is clear that for those informal settlements on safe ground, the first choice is to upgrade in-situ. This means that an agreement is reached with the community on the development plan and clear priorities are then planned for.

“This includes consolidating the occupation rights into formal tenure, access roads, water reticulation as well as sanitation and electricity. R2.4 billion and R2.2 billion is allocated for Provinces and Metros respectively in the current budget towards upgrading of informal settlements,” she said.

Sisulu said the extent of housing needs across the country had fallen into sharp focus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This, she said, has made the need to improve living conditions in informal settlements even more pressing.

“The upgrading plans that were already agreed with communities and municipalities needed to be implemented instantly.

“I want to state categorically today, that our programme for the upgrading of informal settlements is strongly anchored in collaboration with resident communities.

“There can never be sustainable upgrading without the active participation and ownership of families who reside in informal settlements,” she said.

COVID-19 relief measures

Addressing the virtual sitting on Tuesday, Sisulu said the department would introduce COVID-19 Impact relief measures to enable the sector to survive the serious shocks and constraints brought about by the pandemic.

This includes:

– Zero penalties for the estate agencies for late submission of audited statements until 31 October 2020. Furthermore, fees payable for mandatory training will be waved for the current financial year. The Estate Agencies Affairs Board will publish the relevant details before end of July 2020;

– Friendly and developmental rearrangements for loan repayment for affordable housing lenders who are indebted to the National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC). This includes penalty-free capital loan repayment holidays for up to six months. The NHFC will publish the details of these measures by 31 July 2020;

– Rental relief to tenants in affordable rental housing who face financial distress due to COVID-19 pandemic. The rental relief is solely aimed at assisting tenants in formal affordable rental housing to meet their monthly rent obligations. R600 million is allocated for this purpose and the details of this Rent Relief for Tenants in Affordable Rental Housing will be published in the next 30 days. – SAnews.gov.za

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