Housing delivery to receive a boost from new state agency

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

A government agency that aimed at fast-tracking housing delivery will be up and running by June, Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu said yesterday.

Sisulu said the Housing Development Agency had been passed by parliament's housing portfolio committee and would be the facilitator between the national Department of Housing and banks for annual housing delivery.

The department plans to increase delivery of houses from 270000 to 500000 annually for the estimated 2,3million impoverished people awaiting shelter.

It is estimated that the effort will cost the department R345billion by 2014.

The agency's main tasks will be to develop, manage and coordinate the development of housing nationally.

The theory behind the agency is that it will minimise the red tape involved in the approval of developments by both the government and private sector, which have been known to take as long as three years.

Sisulu said the agency was critical for government to meet its 2014 deadline of a slum-free South Africa, and it would not be deterred by Eskom's threats to halt the electrification of the government's Breaking New Ground houses.

She said the argument to halt electrification of government houses to aid power supply constraints was unrealistic.

"We cannot avoid the growth brought by urbanisation," Sisulu said.

"I have written to both [the minerals and energy minister, Bulelwa Sonjica, and Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga] to clarify how housing delivery will be affected."