Plans are underway to introduce new and improved government-subsidised homes with enhanced features, including rooftop solar panels and bugler proofing.
The houses will have water and sanitation systems that respond to water shortages affecting the country.
There is also a discussion that the size of a BNG [Breaking New Ground] house needs to be reviewed, from 40 square meters to 45 square meters.
These were some of the key items discussed at a meeting recently convened in Durban by the Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi, together with Deputy Minister, Pam Tshwete. Members of the Executive Committees [MECs], Mayoral Committees responsible for Human Settlements, as well as representatives of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) who were among those at the meeting.
“The revised specifications of a fully subsidised government house are aimed at improving the quality of household life, while contributing to the economy,” said the Department of Human Settlements in a statement.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa pronounced that government was forging ahead with the rollout of solar panels to address load shedding.
It is therefore expected that the new elements, such as solar panels, for BNG houses will result in economic opportunities, job creation and skills transfer – particularly, for youth, women, people with disabilities and military veterans.
To this end, the MINMEC [Ministers and Members of Executive Council] has directed officials to work with all affected structures, including the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), to finalise specifications, including detailed financial implications of the proposed changes. This will enable the implementation of improved housing units as soon as possible.
MINMEC also received progress reports on grants performance for the third quarter of the current financial year and considered the overall performance of the sector, with a commitment to urgently make the necessary interventions that would ensure all targets are met on time.
This includes a focus on “missing middle” interventions to enable affordable first-time home ownership, alongside emergency housing interventions for affected provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Western Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Prior to the MINMEC meeting, the Minister and the MECs visited several sites that are being used to accommodate flood victims.
They were informed that KwaZulu-Natal has assisted all 2022 flood victims through the construction of 1 755 temporary housing units, and the implementation of the Rental Assistance Scheme and Transitional Emergency Housing.
The province is also working on a permanent housing solution for the affected victims.
The housing project to accommodate flood victims is expected to commence in June 2023.
“Since last year, we have learned many lessons and we are seeing progress. We have accommodated affected households from dehumanising halls to better accommodation facilities. Families now enjoy privacy. We have since started focusing on long-term interventions,” said Kubayi.
She emphasised the importance of all spheres of government and all affected stakeholders working as a team to accelerate the delivery of sustainable human settlements.
She raised concerns about the resources that are often diverted to provide security, as opposed to building houses.
“I want to appeal to communities to understand that these projects belong to them and are meant to respond to their housing needs. Invasion of projects and stopping them does not help.
“This delays progress and ultimately prolongs the time of people living in temporary shelters to occupy the houses,” said Kubayi.