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Equal Spaces Project

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Rooftops Canada has worked in South Africa since 1990. (Click here for an overview of our first 25 years in South Africa.)


More recently, Rooftops Canada was appointed as the Executing Agency for the Equal Spaces: Social Housing to End Spatial Apartheid in South Africa ProjectIt is a four year initiative that began in April 2016 and is part of the bilateral program between the Governments of Canada and South Africa. The Government of Canada will contribute $2,500,000 to this initiative through Global Affairs Canada. Rooftops Canada - Abri International will contribute $221,300 in-kind. The Project is starting to  lever considerable South African resources for social housing and urban regeneration activities and capacity building. 


The Project is helping revitalize inner city urban communities using well-managed, affordable and secure social housing developments to provide access to socio-economic opportunities that will both alleviate poverty and contribute to economic growth. The Project is working  directly with the National Departments of Treasury; Human Settlements; and Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. It is also working with the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA); the National Association of Social Housing Organizations (NASHO); and, with a range of stakeholders including provincial and municipal governments, social housing institutions (SHIs), community organizations, financial institutions and the private sector. Numerous Canadian partner organizations are also involved in the Project.


The Project is  building partnerships and protocols that are helping this diverse group of stakeholders to develop, operationalize and manage social housing and urban regeneration initiatives in three South African metropolitan cities – Cape Town, eThekwini (Durban) and Johannesburg. The Project is also focussed on the institutional strengthening of SHIs to ensure their independent financial viability and to scale up their ability to develop and manage inclusive social housing developments. This  includes developing and implementing a coordinated sector wide capacity building with the SHRA, NASHO and other important sector stakeholders. This also includes further building the capacity of NASHO to provide ongoing training and other services to SHIs.


The Project addresses a structural development problem that continues to challenge post-apartheid South Africa: the legacy of racial and economic exclusion and spatial segregation. This has resulted in urban areas with deteriorated inner city cores, surrounded on the periphery by sprawling housing developments far from employment and economic opportunity, and lacking in public services. As of September 2017, 16 sites were in process in Cpae Town and eThekwini with total potential for 4,390 social housing units and two transitional housing projects – all to house about 13,270 people in  well located urban areas.


The Project is  resulting in South African stakeholders increasing the delivery of land, finance and other resources for social housing and urban regeneration initiatives, as well as the availability of affordable well located housing and improved socio-economic conditions for low income and previously disadvantaged households. Gender equality is  being enhanced through the implementation of a Gender Equality Strategy including initiatives aimed at women’s engagement within institutional dialogue, enhanced leadership and economic opportunities. 


The Project is helping strengthen the South African response to climate change by promoting more compact, denser urban areas through increasing the supply of social rental housing located within existing built-up areas. This will contribute to reducing the environmental effects of urban sprawl such as the loss of productive land, commuting-based pollution and greenhouse gases, and the need for new bulk infrastructure.


 For the latest project updates see our blog



Equal Spaces Project Mid-Term Assessment November 2018