State involvement in self-help housing: reflections from the Free State

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • Abstract:

    English: When John Turner forwarded his theories on self-help housing, he emphasised the concept of dweller control and argued that the state should not be involved in housing construction processes. Although there was worldwide acknowledgement of his ideas, a large number of self-help programmes developed with a fair amount of state-involvement. South Africa’s self-help programme, called the People’s Housing Process, is no exception in this respect. Although designed to ensure larger degrees of ownership by people, evidence of large-scale government influence is clear. This article assesses the application of self-help housing in the Free State province and argues that a technocratic rather than a people-centred approach (envisaged in policy documents) dominated the People’s Housing Process. The levels of influence by local people in project design, project implementation and housing design remain low, and the housing outcomes do not differ much from the normal project subsidy approach.