Backyard shacks: the relative success of this housing option in Port Elizabeth

This paper looks at the relative success of backyard shacks in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is based on interviews with both tenants and landlords between 1997 and 1999 in two townships, a black township and a coloured one. The success of backyard shacks appears to be directly linked to the housing crisis and does not result from clear residential and economic strategies. In this sense, backyard shacks may be considered a type of emergency accommodation that is likely to disappear, as suggested by trends in the late 1980s. Nevertheless, between 1991 and 1996, the total stock of backyard shacks increased from 354,000 to 400,000 units. The author argues that this success is due to backyard shacks’ capacity to give access to the city centre, the township centre, and urban services; low rents resulting from a sophisticated regulation by the households themselves, which share the costs of urban services; and the fact that backyard shacks match flexibility with stability. The new South African housing policy, however, is based mainly on the promotion of fully subsidized home-ownership for the poor and seeks to eradicate informal housing, including backyard shacks. Bibliogr., note.

Title: Backyard shacks: the relative success of this housing option in Port Elizabeth
Author: Morange, Marianne
Year: 2002
Periodical: Urban Forum
Volume: 13
Issue: 2
Pages: 3-25
Language: English
Geographic term: South Africa
Subject: informal settlements
External link: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s12132-002-0011-4.pdf
Abstract: This paper looks at the relative success of backyard shacks in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is based on interviews with both tenants and landlords between 1997 and 1999 in two townships, a black township and a coloured one. The success of backyard shacks appears to be directly linked to the housing crisis and does not result from clear residential and economic strategies. In this sense, backyard shacks may be considered a type of emergency accommodation that is likely to disappear, as suggested by trends in the late 1980s. Nevertheless, between 1991 and 1996, the total stock of backyard shacks increased from 354,000 to 400,000 units. The author argues that this success is due to backyard shacks’ capacity to give access to the city centre, the township centre, and urban services; low rents resulting from a sophisticated regulation by the households themselves, which share the costs of urban services; and the fact that backyard shacks match flexibility with stability. The new South African housing policy, however, is based mainly on the promotion of fully subsidized home-ownership for the poor and seeks to eradicate informal housing, including backyard shacks. Bibliogr., note.