Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 50



Feature
Three ways to encourage affordable
housing in the inner city
The need for affordable housing in Cape Town’s inner city is hard to overstate.
Right now, the city’s lowest income group spends roughly two hours a day
and at least 15% of their monthly salary on getting to and from work. In other
words, the people who can least afford it are the same ones who have to
travel the furthest and pay the most to get to their workplaces.
A new paper produced by the Department of
Construction Economics and Management identifies
the challenges presented by the lack of affordable
housing in Cape Town’s city centre – and some possible
solutions.
“Right now, there’s a significant backlog in the supply
of units,” explains researcher and land economist
Robert McGaffin. “Apartheid planning resulted in
fragmented and sprawling cities, and in Cape Town this
is exacerbated by the fact that land close to the city
centre is particularly expensive.”
So what can be done to encourage the development of
more affordable housing in the inner city?
McGaffin, along with co-authors Francois Viruly, Mark
William Massyn and Nicole Hopkins, argue in their 2015
paper that development costs such as land acquisition,
45 UCT RESEARCH & INNOVATION 2015–16
construction costs, financing and marketing must be
balanced by the need to create a product that is truly
affordable to a lower- to mid-income market. According
to the paper, both realistic economic factors and policy
changes have a part to play in increasing the viability of
affordable housing.
Greater density
Increasing the height of buildings and dividing
developments into smaller units can help improve
the ratio between development costs and profitablity
for property developers, while still keeping housing
affordable.
“There is a perception that South Africans are unwilling
to consider smaller living spaces; but I think the

two hours a day and at least 15% of their monthly salary two hours a day and at least 15% of their monthly salary





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