Transforming South Africa’s low-income housing projects through backyard dwellings: intersections with households and the state in Alexandra, Johannesburg
- 865 Downloads
South Africa’s ‘housing programme’ transfers a fully-funded serviced site and house to qualifying beneficiaries with aims of progressively addressing poverty through homeownership. Despite delivering close to 3 million houses since 1994, informal housing persists, featuring even in some of these new neighbourhoods. This paper focuses on the intersection between a particular mode of informal housing, backyard dwellings, and state-subsidised low-income housing projects. Backyard dwellings arguably contradict state housing objectives by symbolising informality and disorder; a symptom of inadequacy that the housing programme strives to overcome. We consider first the views and experiences of landlords (owners of state-subsided houses) and tenants (occupiers of privately-provided backyard dwellings) in a section of Alexandra, Johannesburg. We then reflect on the potential of backyard accommodation within post-apartheid housing delivery, arguing that despite challenges, the phenomenon of planned, state-led infrastructure generating secondary accommodation represents an opportunity rather than an example of failed modernity. South Africa’s backyard dwellings resonate with similar forms of self-funded and managed rental stock across the global South. As a quick, flexible and regenerative housing asset, cumulative acceptance of such rental markets is necessary—along with viewing the driving actors as astute innovators in shelter and livelihood provision.
KeywordsAlexandra Backyard dwelling Johannesburg Low-income housing RDP Rental housing State infrastructure South Africa
This paper is based on research in 2010 towards a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning (Honours) at Wits University, supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and therefore the NRF does not accept any liability in regard thereto. The authors wish to thank the ARP, particularly Mr Neels Letter, Mabandla Mwela and Sammy Mamabolo for facilitating site visits and Daluxolo for his research assistance. Thanks to Ms Alize le Roux (CSIR Built Environment) for assistance with GIS mapping. Thanks also to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and insightful comments.
- Alexandra Renewal Project. (2005). Alex leader counters criticism. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.alexandra.co.za.
- ARP. (2007). Alexandra’s K206 housing project. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from http://www.alexandra.co.za/05_housing/article_0612_K206.htm.
- Beijaard, E. A. W. (1986). On conventillos: Rental housing in the centre of La Paz, Bolivia. Amsterdam: Institute of Cultural Anthropology/Sociology of Development, Free University.Google Scholar
- Carey, S. (2009). Investigation into the proliferation of low-income private rental housing supply, and the development of recommendations concerning appropriate interventions/responses. Prepared for the Social Housing Foundation (SHF) and Urban Landmark (ULM).Google Scholar
- City of Johannesburg. (2012). Growth management strategy: Growth trends and development indicators fourth annual assessment: Part II: Development applications. Johannesburg: Department of Development Planning and Facilitation.Google Scholar
- Department of Housing (DoH). (2004). Breaking new ground: A comprehensive plan for the development of sustainable human settlements. Pretoria: DoH.Google Scholar
- Gardner, D. (2010). Small-scale private rental: A strategy for increasing supply in South Africa. Report Published for the Social Housing Foundation in conjunction with Urban Landmark.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, A. (2008). Slums, tenants and home-ownership: On blindness to the obvious. IPDM, 30, 1–10.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, A., & Varley, A. (1989). From renting to self-help ownership? Residential tenure in urban Mexico since 1940. In A. Gilbert (Ed.), Housing and land in urban Mexico (pp. 13–37). San Diego: Centre for US–Mexican Studies, University of California.Google Scholar
- Gordon, R., & Nell, M. (2006). Small-scale landlords: Research findings and recommendations. Pretoria: Shisaka Development Management Services (Pty) Ltd in Association with CSIR Built Environment.Google Scholar
- Kumar, S. (2003, September). Room for manoeuvre: Tenure and the urban poor in India. Paper presented at the second urban research symposium, World Bank Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
- Letter, N. (2010). Deputy Director, Alexandra Renewal Project, Wynberg, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
- Poulsen, L., & Silverman, M. (2005, September). Design strategies for the densification of low income housing. Paper presented at the World Congress on housing: Transforming housing environments through design, Pretoria, South Africa.Google Scholar
- Presidency of the Republic of South Africa. (2012). National Development Plan 203: Our future—Make it work. Prepared by the National Planning Commission.Google Scholar
- Republic of South Africa. (1994). Reconstruction and development programme. African National Congress (ANC).Google Scholar
- Republic of South Africa. (1995). Development Facilitation Act, No 67 of 1995.Google Scholar
- Royston, L. (2003). On the outskirts: Access to well-located land and integration in post-apartheid human settlement development. In F. Khan & P. Thring (Eds.), Housing policy and practice in post apartheid South Africa (pp. 234–255). Sandown: Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Social Housing Foundation (SHF). (2008). The supply and demand of rental housing in South Africa. Johannesburg: SHF and Eighty, p. 20.Google Scholar
- UN-HABITAT. (2009). Global report on human settlements. Planning sustainable settlements. Nairobi: UN-HABITAT.Google Scholar
- UN-HABITAT. (2011). Housing the poor in African cities. Rental housing: A much neglected housing option for the poor. Quick guide 7: Rental housing. Nairobi: UN-HABITAT.Google Scholar
- United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). (2003). Rental housing: An essential shelter option for the poor in developing countries. Nairobi: UN-HABITAT.Google Scholar
- Watson, V. (2009). Strategic literature assessment for informal rental research project. Johannesburg, report for the Social Housing Foundation and Urban LandMark.Google Scholar