Enabling the Right to Build through Housing Support Centres

Amid the growing discourse around self-build, especially in the context of fiscal constraints and the de-prioritisation of new large-scale public housing projects, there is an opportunity for self-build to be enabled and supported through Housing Support Centres, to tap into latent willingness and agency of communities for incremental top-structure consolidation. Based on the Enhanced People’s Housing Process (EPHP) as a local self-build precedent, and other examples of current and proposed models for support centres, both locally and in other global South locations (Brazil and India), Isandla Institute has proposed a municipal-led Housing Support Centre model that could provide a variety of possible housing support needs across different housing/settlement typologies, in partnership with provinces, NGOs, the private sector, and academic institutions. For more details, see the proposition paper which is distilled from a longer research paper

A house is a shelter against the elements a refuge and an asset but many people living in towns and cities across south africa cannot access public housing or affordable rentals so they end up living in informal settlements an informal backyard dwellings amid the housing shortage and budget constraints government is shifting focus to providing serviced sites

But what about housing we believe there is an opportunity for government to enable the right to build and self-build the right to build is about empowering people to build their own homes with guidance and support from the state and other role players if government doesn’t enable and support people’s right to self-build to build their own homes many people will

Construct what they can afford which may result in large numbers of informal and undignified structures hardly an ideal outcome but if self-build is supported it allows for choice agency and incremental improvements and investments over time so how can government support self-build housing support centers can be established to facilitate incremental housing

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Consolidation in both informal settlements and formal neighborhoods where backyard housing provides affordable rental housing and densification the housing support centers should provide offerings that suit the local context such as training and technical support on construction access to basic building plans and regulatory compliance help prototype designs for

Different types of houses access to local artisans and contractors pro former lease agreements information on tenant and landlord rights and obligations referrals to rental housing tribunals and information on how to access finance for housing support centers to be successful municipalities must have the capacity to run them if municipalities are undercapacitated

They will require assistance from provincial government civil society organizations the private sector and finance providers can offer additional support and services national building regulations must be simplified prioritizing health and safety and title deed registration addressed at a municipal level regulations and procedures will also need to be simplified

The centers will need a physical presence a permanent structure or mobile office close to where people live so services are accessible and trust is built between municipalities and communities digital tools and other outreach strategies can also provide information and support to strengthen community-based knowledge epwp workers can be trained on housing rights

And how to access housing support funding can come from existing grants but as the centers become more prominent in communities dedicated funding and private sector support will be required households wanting to build and improve their home incrementally will need financial support a voucher scheme can help residents buy building materials or pay a local contractor

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To construct a top structure households can complement this with their own funding like savings stock fells or loans housing support centers can enable the right to build and advance housing rights by contributing to increased housing supply and improving local living conditions urgent housing needs are met and neighborhoods are transformed isn’t this a future worth building

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Enabling the Right to Build through Housing Support Centres By Isandla Institute