Housing and living conditions

National Directives for Housing and Living Conditions

The Housing Act, 1997
The Housing Act (no 107 of 1997) – amended by the Housing Amendment Act in 2001 (no 4 of 2001) –
defines housing development as the establishment and maintenance of habitable, stable and sustainable
public and private residential environments, to ensure viable households and communities in areas
allowing convenient access to economic opportunities, health, educational and social amenities, and that
all citizens and permanent residents of the Republic, on a progressive basis, have access to permanent and
secure structures, adequate protection against the elements, potable water, adequate sanitary facilities
and domestic energy supply. This primary piece of housing legislation compels all spheres of government
to prioritise the needs of the poor in respect of housing development, and consult meaningfully with
individuals and communities affected by housing development. Required processes include racial, social,
economic and physical integration in urban and rural areas; measures to prohibit unfair discrimination on
the grounds of gender and other forms of unfair discrimination by all actors in the housing development
process; higher density in respect of housing development to ensure the economical utilisation of land
and services; and the meeting of special housing needs, including the needs of the disabled.
Breaking New Ground: A Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human
Settlements, 2004
This plan reinforced government’s vision of promoting the achievement of a non-racial, integrated
society through the development of sustainable human settlements and quality housing. It built on
the 1994 White Paper on Housing, but was unique in that it shifted government’s focus from providing
poor households with houses and basic services (e.g. potable water and sanitation) on an equitable
basis, to improving the quality of housing and housing environments by integrating communities and
settlements. It outlined a five-year plan for the achievement of its objectives and was also included in the
2009 National Housing Code, which simplified information on the various housing subsidy instruments
available to assist low-income households. In support of this plan, various stakeholders who attended the
2005 Housing Indaba in Cape Town committed to removing or improving all slums in South Africa by
2014 and fast-tracking the provision of formal housing within human settlements, as stated in the Social
Contract for Rapid Housing Delivery.
People’s Housing Process Policy, 2008
The main aim of this policy is to deliver better human settlement outcomes at household and community
level, based on community contributions and the leveraging of additional resources through partnerships.
It replaced the People’s Housing Partnership Trust Programme, and is aligned with the Comprehensive
Plan for the Development of Sustainable Human Settlements.