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The Canadian government has contributed about R25 million towards the provision of affordable upmarket housing for previously disadvantaged communities. Under the auspices of the “Equal Spaces: Social Housing to End Spatial Apartheid in South Africa Project”, the funding will go towards developing affordable inner-city housing in Johannesburg, Cape Town, eThekwini and Ekurhuleni over the next four years.

Canada invests in affordable housing in four SA citiesThe intent of the project is to revitalise inner city urban communities using “well-managed, affordable and secure social housing developments” to provide access to socio-economic opportunities that will alleviate poverty and contribute to economic growth. The project will work directly with the National Departments of Treasury, Human Settlements and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency. It will also work with the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), the National Association of Social Housing Organizations (NASHO), as well as a range of stakeholders including provincial and municipal governments, social housing institutions (SHIs), community organisations, financial institutions and the private sector. Rooftops Canada is the executing agency for the project.

“The project will help build partnerships and protocols that will allow this diverse group of stakeholders to develop, operationalise and manage social housing and urban regeneration initiatives in at least four South African metropolitan cities. The project will also focus on the institutional strengthening of SHIs to ensure their independent financial viability and to scale up their ability to develop and manage inclusive social housing developments. This will include developing and implementing a co-ordinated sector-wide capacity building with the SHRA, NASHO and other important sector stakeholders. This will also include further building the capacity of NASHO to provide ongoing training and other services to SHIs,” the Equal Spaces website declares.

“In our recent Budget, the Canadian Government pledged over $11 billion Canadian dollars in support of a National Housing Strategy. This was the single largest commitment in the entire budget. Housing is also a priority that we share with the Government of South Africa,” Canadian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ian Shugart, said at the launch of the project.

“Altogether, this initiative will reach hundreds of social housing stakeholders and ultimately help provide up to 5 400 safe, affordable, well-located social housing units, accommodating approximately 16 000 disadvantaged individuals.”

According to DPME Deputy Director General, Ahmed Vawda, South Africa is 60% urbanised and by 2040, that figure is expected to be 70%. “We need to work hard to achieve our goal of housing citizens. The challenge came out of forcible exclusion of other citizens by the previous government. Our government has done well in making sure they reverse hostile policies which saw many citizens being excluded in housing projects. This has led to a lot of poverty which is becoming a major challenge. Without good policies, adopting and implementing effective proper measures towards housing affordability we are a doomed society. We are on track and need support to achieve our target.”

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