Great progress for Metro-driven urban intensification and social housing in Cape Town and a Strategic Partner Certificate for Rooftops Canada

By Lizette Zuniga, Technical Advisor

A little more than one year ago, I started working in South Africa with the Rooftops Canada and Equal Spaces Project. It is helping several South African Metros to reverse the legacy of apartheid spatial planning using inner city urban regeneration leveraged with social housing investment. Cape Town is moving very quickly with incentives and support to accelerate the scale and production of social housing and encourage partnerships between the private sector and social housing institutions (SHIs).

We have been working very closely with the National Association of Social Housing Organizations, NASHO, and City officials to develop a “Smart Partnership” framework and templates for formal agreements with social housing partners. Cape Town has fully embraced this approach and recently held an open call for proposals for new social housing partners. Twenty SHIs were confirmed as City partners at a ceremony with the Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille on October 10. This includes 16 new SHIs, almost half from outside Western Cape Province. There is very strong interest in developing social housing in Cape Town while contributing to city-building with a strong urban vision.

The City also recently launched the development of numerous affordable housing opportunities for lower-income residents on prime City-owned land with complementary investment in infrastructure aimed to transform Cape Town’s spatial reality. This will help build a dense urban fabric with transit-oriented growth and development creating more diverse and inclusive communities with access to improved services, job opportunities, affordable housing and public transport.

SHI Partners CofCT Oct 2017

Cape Town ceremony to recognise its social housing partners with Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille and Councillor Brett Herron

A lot of our work has focused on the Salt River/Woodstock precinct which is very close to the city centre and undergoing rapid gentrification. In response, the City is offering 11 municipal sites for 4,000 inclusionary and affordable housing opportunities. This will introduce social housing to preserve housing affordability in the midst of rising property prices and displacement of low-income people.


A public RFP for five sites has been issued to the City social housing partners and private sector developers to help develop integrated neighbourhoods in the precinct. It will close early in 2018, and includes an extensive public communication and participation process. The city is engaging with community residents and ratepayers’ associations as well as private sector developers, SHIs and civil society organisations.

Three other sites have already been allocated to SHIs including the historic Salt River Market. A mixed-use development is proposed with affordable housing, retail and office space. We have been helping with the financial modelling. Two sites are already in progress as Cape Town’s first inner-city transitional housing projects. And, two City-owned sites in the Woodstock area will be available for development at a later stage. This City of Cape Town video puts it all in perspective:

LZ Certificate CofCT Oct 2017

Lizette Zuniga receiving Strategic Partner Certificate from Mayor de Lille and Cllr Herron on behalf of Rooftops Canada

During the event to sign agreements with its SHI partners, the City of Cape Town also awarded Strategic Partner Certificates to Rooftops Canada and NASHO. We highly appreciate this recognition and look forward to helping get those social housing projects on the ground!


About Rooftops Canada

Rooftops Canada is the international development program of co-operative and social housing organizations in Canada. Rooftops Canada works with partner organizations to improve housing conditions, build sustainable communities and develop a shared vision of equitable global development. Rooftops Canada's focus is on disadvantaged communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.
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