Over two decades of subsidised housing delivery in South Africa has achieved notable quantitative
success, but this has also perpetuated undesirable urban form, including low-density, mono-functional
and predominantly low-income residential areas on the periphery of cities with limited related economic
opportunity. This paper explores the intent and impact of the last 23 years of South Africa’s human
settlements policy with a focus on cities, and proposes strategies to better align land, infrastructure and
transport strategies with human settlements approaches to achieve better city-level outcomes.
Key Findings: Human settlements strategies continue to deliver predominantly large-scale, peripheral and
income-polarised housing development with limited economic opportunity. Yet, certain existing
programmes have potential to better support a city restructuring agenda including social housing and
upgrading of informal settlements.
Policy Conclusions: Multi-faceted human settlements strategies are required to match low affordability
with increasingly complex and changing housing demand patterns.