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20 Years of Freedom and Democracy
EThekwini Research and Policy Advocacy Department hosts US Delegation on Public Housing

EThekwini Research and Policy Advocacy (RAPA) hosted a delegation from the United States on Friday the 2nd of August at Durban University of Technology (DUT) to explore public housing research and practice partnerships between South African institutions and the US. The delegation consisted of public housing officials from California, Maryland, Texas and New Jersey as well as the Director Prof. Maria Day-Marshall and Assistant Director Prof. Tanya Bansal of the University of Maryland (UMD) Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development. The meeting was attended by various local stakeholders such as Urban Future Centre (DUT), Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) (DUT), DUT Student Housing, eThekwini International Relations Unit, eThekwini Human Settlements and MILE. 

The purpose of the meeting was to explore opportunities to exchange information on social and affordable housing best practices and to engage on academic exchanges in the area of real estate development.

Mr Eric Apple green in his welcome address affirmed the longstanding relationship between the people of South Africa and the United States. He indicated the importance of keeping this relationship going and of ensuring that meaningful partnerships were forged. Mr Mark Byerley and Ms Sarah Watson from eThekwini Human Settlements provided a synopsis of the housing challenge in eThekwini. DUT’s Student Housing Department raised their concerns that while housing their students was a main challenge keeping them safe was even a bigger challenge. He highlighted that they have about 84 student accommodations most of which are located in the inner-city. The university claimed that their students in the inner-city were unsafe and were often victims of crime. Furthermore, DUT stated that finding suitable accommodation or land for students accommodation was challenged by a NIMBY syndrome most of the neighbourhoods, particularly high income ones. They urged the city to work together with the university to find solutions.  Elizabeth Glenn, US delegate, reiterated that housing backlogs, student housing challenges and crime were not a unique occurrence for Durban but it is a global phenomenon that some of the cities in the US are dealing with.

As part of this meeting the delegation visited Sea Cow Lake Informal Settlement, Cornubia Housing Project and KwaXimba to understand the various disparities in the housing landscape. One of the proposed outcomes of the meeting is a co-hosting of a Pan African Symposium on Housing and Sustainable Communities in 2020 which would facilitate a continued peer/professional exchanges where housing professionals of colour may be exposed to and share best practices between US and South Africa.  This symposium will be one of the projects to resuscitate output drive partnerships in order to enhance co-learning and evidence-based policy formulation in eThekwini. The proposal was welcomed by Mr Fezile Njokweni of MILE as a great initiative that will add value to the work his department continues to do in the continent.

Lastly, RAPA, through Dr Sandile Mbatha is facilitating a relationship between University of Maryland and DUT to establish a study abroad program for Real Estate Development as one of the key outcomes of the delegation visit. This is part RAPA’s objectives to facilitate output-driven partnerships between eThekwini and various international institutions.


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