Following the robust discussions during the inaugural National Human Settlements Conference that took place from 6-7 October in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, the delegates who attended the Conference from the academics, industry experts, government and private sector, came up with a declaration which aimed to systematically reflect on housing and human settlements development in South Africa, identify and showcase good practices, assess challenges and provide tangible and sustainable solutions.
The Conference’s academic content, driven in the main by quality assured papers and Plenary Speeches, has been enriched by sound advice and meaningful participation of subject-matter experts in institutions of higher learning and housing authorities in countries such as the USA, Germany, Colombia, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, Canada, UK and others.
The Conference committed on the following;
Focused research, coordinated by the Chair for Education in Human Settlements at the Nelson Mandela Metro University NMMU, prioritising:
The illegal sale and real occupants of government-funded houses,
Housing subsidies revolving within single households,
Quantification of housing demand from 40 years of age and above,
Demographical profile of ownership patterns in the property management sector, patterns of financed-linked housing allocation in the middle and upper-income levels of the residential property market,
Extent of rental accommodation need in university towns and devising appropriate responses.
The conference also noted the following:
Despite this massive delivery of government supported housing programmes the housing need is still huge and increasing parallel to government investment in the residential property market.
While decisive interventions are made in addressing informality and housing inadequacy other factors such as unemployment, poverty, unavailability of suitable and well-located land, illegal selling of low-cost housing, under-performing affordable housing sector continue to influence the housing demand.
The pace in which science, technology and building innovations are embraced by provinces and municipalities continues to be slow, thereby exerting pressure on the conventional methods of housing delivery and human settlements development.
Public participation in human settlements planning and implementation remains weak, and a top down approach to development management prevails, thereby depriving the human settlements sector the opportunity for communities to own, protect and nurture their homes and neighbourhoods
Capacity across all spheres, in terms of knowledge, skills, resources, appropriate systems, culture and ethical conduct, is a critical success factor for sustainable human settlement development, with some municipalities lacking in this regard.
A public discourse, education and awareness raising towards a decolonised narrative for human settlements, neighbourhoods and cities that reflect the rich diversity of races, culture, beliefs, heritage and Africanism is lacking.
Source: Department of Human Settlements