Genesis unpacks impact of social housing in South Africa

Project name:
A study on the socio-economic and spatial restructuring impact of social housing using a case studies approach.

Monitoring and evaluation
Economic impact assessment

Public and Social

Area of Expertise:
Evaluation & impact assessment

Social Housing Regulatory Authority

2018 - 2019

South Africa

The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) is the South African regulator for social housing. SHRA provides funding and requires that all social housing institutions meet the set standards, and report to SHRA. The regulatory authority contracted Genesis Analytics to undertake a study on the socio-economic and spatial restructuring impact of social housing.

Using a case study approach, the study covered 10 housing projects spread across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The impact of social housing was analysed on three different levels – the social housing sector, the tenants and the communities around the social housing projects. Social housing aims to provide rental housing to those who earn between R1,500 and R15,000, addressing a gap in the housing market that is not catered for by formal housing finance.

Genesis found that the impact of social housing depended on the areas in which the housing projects were placed. Social housing in suburban areas led to greater racial and income diversification, but had lower access to transport hubs and economic opportunities. Housing projects in city centres had greater access to transport hubs and economic opportunities, but contributed minimally to the racial and income diversification of the area.

In all areas it was found that social housing contributed positively to the local economy because it brought in a large number of households who spent a minimum of R1,240 each on food and non-food teams. However, social housing had no effect on surrounding property prices and did not crowd-in private investors.

Lastly, it was found that some of the social housing institutions that managed both the property and the tenants were not financially viable and passed the burden of the cost to the tenants, by charging them higher rents, which could lead to them being priced out of social housing in the medium to long term.

The study provided the SHRA with empirical evidence on the impact of its programme. It was recommended that the SHRA conduct a longitudinal study of social housing to generate further data on the impact its programme. This recommendation has been taken up and the results of the Genesis study will be used to inform the design of the baseline study conducted by the HSRC. In this way Genesis has enabled the SHRA to track its impact at both the household and social housing project.

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