The Department of Human settlements is in charge of housing. It ‘determines finances, promotes, communicates and monitors the implementation of housing and sanitation programmes in South Africa.’ You can contact them on

The Housing Subsidy Scheme: It is expensive to build a permanent home, so in this scheme the government gives a grant to help poor people. The money is not given as cash: it is for building materials and services. Houses built must be of a certain standard. To qualify you prove you do not already own a house, earn less than a certain amount per month (at present R3 500), are a citizen or permanent resident, older than 21, and married/with a permanent partner or have dependents such as old parents, children, and relatives with disabilities. Apply by contacting your provincial Department of Human Settlements or your municipality.

The Emergency Housing Programme: Provinces and municipalities must quickly help people who lose their homes due to, for example, eviction, shack demolition or a disaster such as flooding. The victims are relocated to temporary accommodation and then may be relocated if they agree to it. The scheme came about due to the ‘Grootboom’ case written up below. Some cities provide shack ‘kits’.