Ndifuna Ukwazi, an activist organisation and law centre that challenges the reproduction of spatial apartheid in Cape Town, has published its ‘Regulating the Private Sector’ report, a five-year study on introducing inclusionary housing in the City of Cape Town.

In 2019, the City of Cape Town committed to implementing an inclusionary housing policy by June 2021. The research publication documents sixteen private developments that have proven how, even without the policy in place, inclusionary housing is not only feasible in Cape Town, but is already in motion.

The study documents Ndifuna Ukwazi’s advocacy strategy to see inclusionary housing urgently implemented in Cape Town, including over fifty objections to private developments and various engagements and negotiations with private developers and built environment practitioners.

“Incorporating affordable housing within new developments is well established practice around the world for many years with great success, especially in the US. It is done in the context of co-operation and trade-off between the developer and the relevant authority where it makes sense, financial and otherwise to all concerned, especially the recipients of the affordable housing. In South Africa in 2022, it could not be more relevant and required to provide housing for valuable and contributing members of society like nurses, teachers, and police officers. Scale is vital in the sense that a small enough component of affordable housing benefits the recipients in several ways without negatively affecting the whole. This makes it sustainable and repeatable,” says Charles Arton of Redwood Property Ventures, developer of Amphion, one of the profiled developments in Paarden Eiland which will include sixteen affordable housing units.

“As one in a range of tools needed to tackle spatial apartheid in Cape Town, we recognise that this is not the silver bullet for the affordable housing crisis. However, this unique tool has the ability to create affordable housing in well-located areas while simultaneously breaking down race and class segregation. Therefore, it should be urgently implemented as one part of the solution to the housing and segregation crisis in Cape Town,” comments Ndifuna Ukwazi researcher, Robyn Park-Ross.

A combination of contemporary drivers has entrenched spatial apartheid, including the sheer scale of housing need, the state’s failure to implement affordable housing in well-located areas since 1994 and a largely unfettered exclusionary land market:

We are not building enough homes for everyone: With 359 277 people on the City of Cape Town’s housing waiting list. The current rate of state-assisted housing delivery remains far below what is required to address rapidly growing demand, let alone the housing backlog. Between public and private sector housing delivery there is a shortfall of 22 970 – 2 980 formal homes per year, leaving many families with informality as their only way to access a home.

State-assisted housing provision has perpetuated spatial inequality: Since 1994 most government subsidised housing delivery has prioritised quantity at the expense of quality and location, unintentionally entrenching spatial apartheid through creating ‘poverty traps’ on the outskirts of the city far from job opportunities, social amenities, and safe, reliable, and affordable transport.

Exclusionary private housing markets remain unchecked: While 76% of Cape Town’s population earn below R22 000 per month, only 34% of all formal homes cater to households in this income range. There is clearly a significant mismatch between what people earn and how much homes cost. This disconnect means that 53% of homes (334 242 in total) built between 2020 and 2040 will be informal. The private sector is effectively keeping people economically excluded from areas that they were legally barred from under apartheid due to race. This private sector role has largely been unchecked, with the state failing to act on its powers and obligations to regulate the private property market towards more spatially just ends.

“While all have inclusionary housing contributions (either proposed by the developer in anticipation of our objection, imposed by the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) or the Appeal Authority (AA), or negotiated through separate agreements), only two are in the construction phase (Harbour Arch and River Club), with another due to start construction in early 2023 (Tutili Place). As far as we are aware, only eleven of the sixteen have final approval and can in principle commence with construction,” Ndifuna Ukwazi.

Download the full report here