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Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale intends to play a more activist role in the property market, to speed up the de-racialisation of residential areas.
“The transformation of our cities and towns, and the broader objective of building a non-racial South Africa, is a priority for this Ministry,” he told a briefing of property writers and analysts in Johannesburg today.
“Our task, ultimately, is to build a non-racial South Africa.”
Sexwale said his Ministry already has a legislated and executive responsibility to monitor the banks’ lending patterns and to ensure there is no discrimination in the awarding of home loans.
“At the upper end of the housing market, we have a responsibility to ensure there is no discrimination against consumers who are building or buying homes. This is primarily achieved through the Home Loans and Mortgage Disclosure Act (HLAMDA), which enables us to monitor discriminatory lending practices. In so doing, it also enables us to leverage the creation of more integrated suburbs.
“We are also increasingly active in the ‘gap market’ – assisting people who earn too much to qualify for a government subsidy but don’t qualify for bank credit.”
Sexwale outlined the role that Government’s R1-billion Gap Fund will play in ensuring it meets its target of 600 000 new loans in the affordable housing sector by 2014.
“This Fund is aimed squarely at nurses, teachers, police, prison warders, government officials, certain categories of management, and blue collar factory and office workers,” he said.
“It is aimed specifically at reducing the risk to lenders – thus stimulating market confidence and demand in the affordable housing finance market.”
These two measures – HLAMDA and the Gap Fund -- will be used increasingly, he said, to change the profile of new developments and suburbs.
“We have to bridge the divide between the Sowetos and Johannesburgs, the Cape Towns and Khayelitshas,” he said.
A key new area of work, he said, was the Department of Human Settlements’ initiatives to upscale affordable rental housing delivery through major investments in inner city renewal projects – which in itself contributes to building new non-racial communities.
“We are financially supporting the renovation and refurbishment of a number of buildings in the Johannesburg inner-city, through our National Housing Finance Corporation, and have partnered with the private sector in other centres including Durban, Pretoria and East London.
“These projects provide suitable accommodation to people who need somewhere to live and who qualify for a government subsidy, but do not necessarily want to own a home at this stage.
“These projects also ensure the availability of accommodation close to where people work,” Sexwale said. “This means much lower transport costs, and greater disposable income. They also allow for the creation of new integrated communities, where people of all races can live alongside each other.”