Accepted paper:

Narratives of Home and Neighbourhood: Exploring non-linear processes between informal and formal housing in South Africa


Sogendren Moodley (Durban University of Technology)
Tamlynn Fleetwood (Durban University of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Experiences of South Africans living in informal settlements pegged for resettlement to formal housing, show that movement between formality and informality is contested and non-linear. Examining how people make meaningful homes and neighbourhoods is vital for rethinking state housing programmes.

Paper long abstract:

Since 1994, the newly democratic South African state has embarked on a large-scale social housing programme. The main approach was to provide subsidised, or 'free' low cost houses (known as RDP houses). Millions of impoverished South Africans have received units, however, many of these housing projects continue to perpetuate apartheid spatial planning, with the poor being located on the periphery of cities. The state has focused on maximising the quantity of units constructed, as well as on the formalisation of social housing provision. Beyond a critique of the model and location of RDP settlements, there is also a problematic underlying assumption that upliftment of the poor happens linearly from informal to formal (ownership) housing. This paper draws on a comparative research project in Durban titled: Narratives of Home and Neighbourhood, that explores how state housing models shape both the built environment and the social landscape; influencing residents' sense of self, neighbourhood and belonging. The paper draws on data from three sites; two informal settlements undergoing both resettlement and in-situ upgrades (Quarry Road West and Blackburn Village), and a new social housing development (Cornubia), where some families from the informal locations have been resettled. The research shows that resettlement processes are contested and non-linear, and the forced movement of people can disrupt residents' sense of place, community ties, and livelihood strategies. Examining how people make meaningful homes and neighbourhoods may be a far more productive method for rethinking the role of South African state housing programmes.

panel Soc06
It is not about housing (only)! affordable housing policies and the resettlement of informal settlements