Housing assets can play a critical role in the resilience strategies of lower-income households. This is, in fact, one of the goals of the national housing programme which, since 1994, has completed an estimated 3.5 million housing units and handed these over to the lowest income families in the nation. An estimated two million of these houses are formally registered on the deeds registry, and subsidy housing stock now accounts for just under one third of all formally registered residential properties in South Africa. For the households who were fortunate enough to receive a subsidised house, it is probably the most valuable asset they will ever own.
In the context of Covid-19, this asset could provide valuable support to low-income households, improving their resilience and broadening their options for responding to the crisis. It could also be the key to unlocking productivity growth and private investment in a post-Covid-19 economy – something we will very clearly need.
Except, in many cases, this value is inaccessible. Too many housing assets are “dead capital”, as a result of an array of barriers that impede formal housing market transactions. These barriers have very significant repercussions for property-owning households, for the development trajectories of lower-income neighbourhoods and, by extension, the transformation of South African cities.
These issues – and how to overcome them – are outlined in detail in this new report. The report documents the first two years of the Transaction Support Centre (TSC), an action-research pilot project established by 71point4 in partnership with CAHF to support formal residential property market transactions in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, a lower income neighbourhood of Cape Town. Operating as a walk-in advice office, the TSC assists clients to formalise tenure and / or resolve other property-related issues. Beyond assisting clients, the TSC’s partners, 71point4 and CAHF, document client case studies, explore mechanisms to optimise existing processes and identify systemic constraints that impede formalisation. These are shared with various public and private sector partners in an effort to improve client experiences and outcomes and to drive systemic change. The TSC was established initially with a grant from National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme. Over the past year it has been funded by TUHF21. It has also received project funding from the Mastercard Foundation and Cities Alliance.