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Human Settlements

Unit Profile
The purpose of the Human Settlements Unit is to:
• Develop new housing stock utilising the National housing subsidy
• Address informal settlements through various housing interventions
• Develop, administer and maintain Hostels/ Community Residential Units (CRUs)
• Administer and maintain Municipal rental stock
• Facilitate development of new social housing projects (rental) as well as for the affordable market
• Undertaking of Remedial Programs (Title Deeds, Infrastructure Handover, Retrofit of Infrastructure)


The purpose of the eThekwini Human Settlements Unit is to facilitate the development of sustainable and integrated human settlements, and to provide housing opportunities to qualifying beneficiaries – enabling secure tenure and quality living environments.

The provision of housing is informed by national policies including Outcome 8 of the Programme of Action, which calls for the creation of sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life, and by Chapter 8 of the National Development Plan.  This chapter emphasizes the contribution of housing projects to overcoming spatial patterns which exacerbate social inequality and economic inefficiency, the realization of constitutional housing rights, and introduces principles to create spaces that are liveable, equitable, sustainable, resilient, efficient, and support economic opportunities and social cohesion.

At the local level, the Human Settlement Unit works to effect Plan Three of the eThekwini Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan: creating a quality living environment.  The key elements of the Unit’s contribution are construction of new fully subsidized houses, management and sale of rental and pre-1994 stock, upgrade and refurbishment of housing units built by the state, and development and conversion of Community Residential Units.
NB: eThekwini municipality will never charge you for a fully subsidized house.  Please do not be misled by scam artists who want to steal your money.  If someone offers you a house in return for payment, you have an obligation to immediately report this to the Human Settlements Unit, the City’s Integrity Unit and the SAPS.

What is the housing situation in eThekwini?

According to a dwelling count based on aerial photography from 2011, there are an estimated 945 910 dwellings in eThekwini.  265 542 (28%) of these are informal structures (shacks) in informal settlements .  The housing backlog (including backyard informal dwellings [48 975] and traditional homes in need of upgrade [97 266]) stands at approximately 400 000 units.  Nationally, household formation grows at about 3% annually.  eThekwini is also seeing the rapid influx of people from rural areas, few of whom have the means to build or buy formal houses in the city.
The priority is to upgrade informal settlements where they are currently located.  Other important means of creating quality housing opportunities include construction of new integrated human settlements, facilitating rental opportunities through social housing institutions and private developers, and rehabilitation of houses built by the state.
The upgrading of informal settlements is determined by the housing prioritization model.  This model looks at various criteria to determine which settlements will upgraded first.  The criteria which are taken into account include walking distance to public transport, close to essential social facilities and nodes of high economic activity, and the presence of existing bulk infrastructure.
Certain settlements are located in areas which are unsuitable for development, like floodplains or areas of geological instability, amongst others.  In this case, relocations are necessary. 
Those informal settlements that are unlikely to be upgraded in the short term are provided with interim services including ablution blocks for water and sanitation services, standpipes for potable water, a basic road network and footpaths with associated storm water controls and electricity connections.  Over 900 ablution facilities have been provided to approximately 200 informal settlements. The ablution facilities are currently being rolled out by the eThekwini Water and Sanitation Unit as well as the Electricity Unit.

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