200 houses down, 2m to go

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

A small step toward fulfilling a promise that the government and big banks made to low-income earners occurred on Friday when 200 homes were handed over to their new owners.

The ceremony at the government's pilot Olievenhoutbosch Housing Project was attended by Absa chief executive Steve Booysen, who committed the bank to financing 100000 low-cost homes valued at R2,6billion by 2010.

"We will have at least one project for every province and two to three projects for every metro," Booysen said.

The four big banks in the Financial Sector Charter agreed to deliver a minimum of R42billion for new affordable housing for households in the R1700 to R8600 income range.

So far, Standard Bank announced a R700million development in 2004 and Nedbank said that it had several projects under way in various stages of development.

But there is still a serious lack of housing for this segment of the population, said realty executives broker Bobo Khuzwayo.

Khuzwayo commented: "The vast majority of homes are in the upper to high-medium market. Most potential homeowners can't afford the high prices currently dominating the market, and new low-cost developments are not happening fast enough."

Nedbank Affordable Housing divisional general manager Lindiwe Mbongwe said that there was a need for approximately 320000 new homes a year, but that only 20000 were being built each year.