Cape Town - Government plans to upgrade 500 000 shacks in informal settlements by 2014, through the provision of basic services and land tenure rights.
Speaking at the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Social Development Edna Molewa said the government still wanted to work towards a country where there was no need for informal settlements, but pointed out that the demand for housing had outstripped supply.
There are 2 700 informal settlements across the country with 1.2 million households.
The new plan - to upgrade 125 000 informal settlement units annually over the next four years through the National Upgrading Support Programme - was an attempt to step up the delivery of affordable housing for all, she said.
At the same time, government aims to boost the number of rental housing units, by offering more housing finance and by setting aside 6 000 hectares of land situated near city centres for affordable housing.
"The reality is that many of those communities in informal settlements have been there for longer than the period that is stipulated in the laws. There's also the requirement that we need to integrate our people as much as we can into cities," said Molewa.
Added to this, the financing for housing and the planning system would be beefed up.
To incentivise the private sector to supply housing units at lower prices and encourage low-income earners to build their own homes, the R1-billion Housing Guarantee Fund would be set up by November.
The fund, which President Jacob Zuma revealed in his State of the Nation address earlier this month, would be launched by the Department of Human Settlements, together with the National Treasury.
Molewa said the Affordable Rental Housing Programme also aimed to increase the rate of affordable rental housing delivery to 300 000 units per year by 2014.
Added to this, the National Rental Housing Strategy, which was approved in 2008, aimed to deliver 100 000 rental housing units by 2012.
The department would also be accrediting most of the metros to allow them to develop housing with any spare capacity they had.
Molewa said people moved to informal settlements for a number of reasons, to take advantage of job opportunities or after being evicted from farms.