Category: Inclusive, Enabling Communities | Caring and protection of particularly vulnerable groups | 2 March, 2013 - 07:27← BACK
Vulnerable South Africans with special care needs, such as orphans, abused women and children, the severely disabled and the elderly have limited access to state-assisted housing through the non-profit organisations (NPOs) who provide the relevant shelter and care at grassroots-level. This is because special needs housing is not enshrined in the National Housing Code and there is no national-level policy framework to address this issue. Three provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape) have active special needs group housing (SNGH) programmes making use of the institutional subsidy mechanism or the transitional variation of it. The housing subsidies are made available only to suitable NPOs which have support of the relevant Provincial oversight Department (Social Development or Health) The Western Cape has developed a comprehensive policy on SNGH but this has yet to be put into effect due to an absence of a clear indication from the National Department of Human Settlements over the eligibility of the institutional subsidy mechanism for such purposes.
It is within this context that Project Preparation Trust (PPT) works to create an enabling policy environment for people with special care needs to access adequate shelter and care through. PPT is a public benefit organisation that supports community based organisations and special needs groups by mobilising capital for them by means of systematic project preparation (including feasibilities) and engaging in evidence-based lobbying for special needs housing policy. PPT is currently undertaking a pilot-learning advocacy project that focuses on stage 2 and 3 housing for abused women, and children and older persons.
National Submission by Civil Society Organisations
A joint Civil Society submission supported by 42 organisations was submitted to the National Department of Human Settlements in January 2013 calling on the Department to issue an enabling directive for SNGH which amongst other things would confirm that SNGH can be undertaken as a legitimate variation of institutional subsidy mechanism, that budget for purposes of SNGH be set aside, and that provinces without SNGH policies and programmes be required to develop and initiate them.
Key lessons learnt from engaging in housing advocacy
Lessons about engaging with broader systems for policy development
There is no unified definition or understanding of special needs housing within the civil society and government sectors. Many NPOs do not know what housing instruments are available for people with special needs to live independently. As a result, the PPT Project has developed a new and inclusive definition of special needs housing. This definition makes a clear distinction between individual and group forms of special needs housing, and includes all categories of people with special needs (e.g. older persons, victims of domestic abuse, persons with disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children, the homeless, etc.). This inclusive definition was included in the national submission and new special needs housing overview document.
Lessons about government and Civil Society collaboration
The partnership between the National Department of Human Settlements and the non-profit organisation (NPO) sector needs to be enhanced. Fortunately, there is strong interest and support from CSO’s and NPOs, and good preconditions for constructive collaboration in respect of promoting SNGH at national and provincial levels.
In order to collaborate with the Provincial Departments of Human Settlements or municipalities on SNGH, NPOs and advocacy groups must have the greater support, capacity and knowledge. Specifically:
A multi-stakeholder national workshop it being actively promoted involving key departments and NPOs. It will ensure that agreement is reached concerning the basic principles of special needs housing; special needs housing is put on the national agenda; and a foundation is laid for departmental cooperation.
Main implications of the learning for PPT and others
5th Floor, Southern Life Building 88 Joe Slovo Street Durban Metro Durban KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
In this one-page-pitch the Project Preparation Trust shares lessons on how to engage with national and provincial government in changing housing policy for people with special care needs. These lessons reveal the importance of knowing who to engage with; the need for common understanding about concepts; and the challenges faced when lobbying and creating awareness in government about housing issues.