R5bn deal to assist poor to own houses

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Low and middle income earners will be able to qualify for financial assistance to buy a new house, thanks to a deal struck between FNB and the KwaZulu-Natal housing department.

The R1 billion a year deal over five years was announced yesterday in Durban when FirstRand Banking group chief executive officer Sizwe Nxasana and housing MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu put the seal on it at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

The deal means that households earning between R1500 and R7000 a month will qualify for government homes and financial assistance from the bank.

Mabuyakhulu said the agreement would go a long way towards helping the department close the housing backlog, which had been worsened by the unrelenting interest rate hikes.

"We aim to restore the dignity of all people through provision. We are about building a sustainable human settlement," Mabuyakhulu said.

Nxasana said: "We should all learn from the global economic turmoil that the private sector should work hand-in-hand with government in order to improve the lives of the people.

He said the bank had invested more that R300 million in a housing project in Empangeni, Richards Bay, and Pietermaritzburg.

The projects should align with the Integrated Development Plans.