2010 Winner
Tecoma, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre
Impumelelo Social Innovations Centre
South Africa

This program earned a Platinum award.


SOHCO is a Social Housing Institution, aiming to build lower-income housing, for those who earn between R2500 and R7500 a month (too much to qualify for government’s low-income housing; but too little to be able to afford the rental or ownership rates at many other private housing facilities). SOHCO has built housing villages in a number of places, including Buffalo City Municipality, East London, Cape Town and Durban; but the main focus of this application is on Amalinda Village (in Buffalo City Municipality). The housing villages are built close to potential places of work, public transport systems, shops, clinics or hospitals, and schools. Communal facilities (eg. children’s playgrounds, parking garages, braai facilities) have also been built; HIV and AIDS peer educator and life-skills training has been provided; and the housing village provides a referral service to other social welfare agencies. A mobile library provides service to the complex; and a Mobile Clinic visits the site when launching special awareness and education campaigns (eg. TB Awareness; Breast Cancer Awareness; Immunization Awareness; HIV/AIDS Awareness). An Arts and Craft Workshop was arranged for tenants; those who attended received a certificate, and some tenants are now generating sustainable income as a result. The project also has a Rent-to-Buy option, whereby tenants can later buy their property and become home-owners.




Innovation: The project aims to provide affordable housing for those in the lower-income bracket, who are unable to qualify for government’s low-income subsidized housing. The focus is also on making the housing villages convenient, with easy access to employment opportunities, public transport, schools, shops and medical facilities.




Effectiveness: 598 residential units have been built and maintained since 2001. There has been 100% unit occupation; and less than 12% unit turnover a year. Up to 50% of residents have decided to take up a Rent-to-Buy option. The project also won the National Department of Housing Govan Mbeki Award for the Best Housing Institution in South Africa.




Poverty Impact: By providing affordable housing, the project allows those in the lower-income bracket to access a stable house; and to be able to move on to owning it in the future. The project also tries to create employment opportunities, and provide education and awareness-raising events on different health issues.




Sustainability: The Provincial Department of Housing provided 300 social housing institutional subsidies (roughly R5.5m); the Flemish government contributed R7.5m; and the balance of the funding (about R50m) was provided by the National Housing Finance Corporation. The development is now self-sustaining as rental income keeps the project financed.




Replication: Another housing project has already been developed in Buffalo City (480 units); 3 in Durban (146 units; 157 units and 330 units); and 2 more are planned for Cape Town (450 units; and 164 units). Thus, it has already been replicated across the country. Similar projects by other groups would require substantial funding and government buy-in, and this may make them difficult to replicate if not initiated by government itself. Once established, the projects are relatively self-sustaining, as the rent received covers much of the maintenance costs.

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