Housing and Shelter in South Africa

  • Ruth Massey
  • Ashley Gunter
Part of the World Regional Geography Book Series book series (WRGBS)


The Constitution of South Africa outlines the right of every South African to adequate housing, and sets out the roles and responsibilities of the State in providing these homes. South Africa has a complex history in terms of housing, dating back to colonial and apartheid times when non-white residents were forced onto the periphery of towns and cities. Since 1994, the South African government has worked hard to provide housing for its citizens. This has, however, been a slow, complex and often politicised task which has frustrated a large portion of the population. South Africa has a wide housing typology which includes informal dwellings, state-subsidised housing, and bonded/mortgaged homes. Gaining access to these various types of housing options has proven difficult for many, particularly those who fall into the ‘gap market’, not being rich enough to access a bond from the bank but not poor enough to qualify for state-subsidised housing. This is a major challenge alongside the shortfall in housing provision. This chapter discusses the background of housing in South Africa, the various types of housing that exist, the legislative and policy components of housing, and finally the challenges and opportunities that the housing sector faces.


Housing Informal settlement Renting Shacks Urbanisation 


  1. Ballim G (2006) Residential property gauge. Research Economics, Standard Bank, August 1–4Google Scholar
  2. Bond P, Tait A (1997) The failure of housing policy in post-apartheid South Africa. Urban Forum 8(1):19–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradlow B, Bolnik J, Shearing C (2011) Housing, institutions, money: the failures and promise of human settlements policy and practice in South Africa. Environ Urban 23(1):267–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bullard J (2004) The property handbook 2004. Financial Mail, JohannesburgGoogle Scholar
  5. Clayton C (2004) Property prices: boom or bubble? Personal Finance 20(3):62–76Google Scholar
  6. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996) Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Government of South Africa, Pretoria, 182ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Department of Human Settlements (2009) Social housing policy. Part 3 vol 6 of the National Housing Code (2009)Google Scholar
  8. Department of Human Settlements (2010) Briefing on the establishment of the R1bn Guarantee Fund. Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements (24 August 2010)Google Scholar
  9. Gilbert A (2004) Helping the poor through housing subsidies: lessons from Chile, Colombia and South Africa. Habitat Int 28(1):13–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) (2010) Pocket guide to South Africa 2010/11: human settlements. GCIS, Pretoria, 4ppGoogle Scholar
  11. Grant D (2009) Small-scale private rental: a strategy for increasing supply in South Africa. Social Housing Foundation and Urban Landmark, Johannesburg, 10ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Gunter A, Manuel K (2016) A role for housing in development: using housing as a catalyst for development in South Africa. Local Econ 31(1–2):312–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gunter A, Massey R (2017) Renting shacks: tenancy in the informal housing sector of the Gauteng Province, South Africa. Bull Geogr Socio-Econ Ser 37:25–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jarbandhan DB, Viljoen K, de Beer J, Blaauw D (2016) Low-cost housing finance and delivery challenges in South Africa. Loyola J Soc Sci 30(2):125–136Google Scholar
  15. Lemanski C (2009) Augmented informality: South Africa’s backyard dwellings as a by-product of formal housing policies. Habitat Int 33(4):472–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lemon A (1991) The apartheid city. In: Lemon A (ed) Homes apart. Chapman, London, pp 1–25Google Scholar
  17. Lizarralde G, Massyn M (2008) Unexpected negative outcomes of community participation in low-cost housing projects in South Africa. Habitat Int 32(1):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Marais L, Ntema J (2013) The upgrading of an informal settlement in South Africa: two decades onwards. Habitat Int 39:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Massey RT (2013) Competing rationalities and informal settlement upgrading in Cape Town, South Africa: a recipe for failure. J Hous Built Environ 28(4):605–613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moser CON (1985) Housing policy and women: towards a gender-aware approach, Gender and planning working paper 50. UCL Development Planning Unit, London, 34ppGoogle Scholar
  21. National Department of Human Settlements (2004) “Breaking New Ground”: a comprehensive plan for the development of sustainable human settlements. National Department of Human Settlements, Pretoria, 28ppGoogle Scholar
  22. National Treasury (2009) Provincial budgets and expenditure review 2005/06–2011/12. National Treasury, Pretoria, 353ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Newton C (2008) Social housing, urban policy and social capital: spatial interrelations in a third world context. PhD dissertation, University of LeuvenGoogle Scholar
  24. Newton C (2009) The reverse side of the medal: about the 2010 FIFA world cup and the beautification of the N2 in Cape Town. Urban Forum 20:93–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oldfield S, Greyling S (2015) Waiting for the state: a politics of housing in South Africa. Environ Plan A Econ Space 47(5):1100–1112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Omedia (2009) Property development/investment. Available at http.// Accessed 15 July 2009Google Scholar
  27. Rogerson CM (2016) South Africa’s informal economy: reframing debates in national policy. Local Econ 31(1–2):172–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sexwale T (2010) Address by the minister of human settlements, Tokyo Sexwale MP, on the occasion of the Human Settlements Budget Vote, National Council of Provinces. Available at Accessed 6 May 2010
  29. Smal MM, de Jager S (2001) The monetary transmission mechanism in South Africa, Occasional Paper No 16. South African Reserve Bank, Pretoria 19ppGoogle Scholar
  30. Steinbrink M, Haferburg C, Ley A (2011) Festivalisation and urban renewal in the Global South: socio-spatial consequences of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. S Afr Geogr J 93(1):15–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tissington K (2011) A resource guide to housing in South Africa 1994–2010: legislation, policy, programmes and practice. Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa, Johannesburg 124ppGoogle Scholar
  32. Todes A, Walker N (1992) Women and housing policy: analysing the past, debating the future. Paper presented to the GRUPHEL Workshop, HarareGoogle Scholar
  33. Tomlinson MR (2007) The development of a low-income housing finance sector in South Africa: have we finally found a way forward? Habitat Int 31(1):77–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turok I, Borel-Saladin J (2016) The theory and reality of urban slums: pathways-out-of-poverty or cul-de-sacs? Urban Stud 55(4):767–789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Turok I, Watson V (2001) Divergent development in South African cities: strategic challenges facing Cape Town. Urban Forum 12(2):119–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Massey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ashley Gunter
    • 3
  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.University of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa
  3. 3.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations