More than 1,6m SA women bought homes with govt subsidies

Many women in South Africa have become homeowners with the aid of subsidies. Picture: Samson Katt/Pexels

Many women in South Africa have become homeowners with the aid of subsidies. Picture: Samson Katt/Pexels

Published Sep 4, 2023


Approximately 1,65 million women own properties in South Africa as a result of government housing subsidies.

A large number of these women who have benefitted from the subsidy scheme since it was implemented in the mid-90s, have since been able to sell their homes at a profit or transfer them to someone else.

Government subsidies for Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses are awarded to South African citizens over 21 who earn less than R3,500 a month, and are first-time government subsidy recipients and first-time homeowners.

However, other subsidies, such as Flisp, assist people who earn more up to R22,000 a month.

Lightstone data on ownership of BNG houses – previously known as RDP houses, shows that, of the 1.65 million women recipients, 1,05 million were single ownership recipients while 600,000 women owned homes jointly with others.

“In fact, single women make up 45 percent of subsidy recipients, while men make up just 29 perfect. Twenty-six percent are owned jointly” says Hayley Ivins-Downes, head of digital at Lightstone Property.

The vast majority of the women who have purchased homes with the aid of these subsidies – 930,000 or 88 percent – still own their properties.

Ownership of government subsidised houses

Graphic: Lightstone Property

Ivins-Downes says that approximately 90,000 of the women single owners sold their homes for an average price of R130, 000, while the balance transferred the properties to someone else at no cost.

“Most women received their property aged between 30 and 40, although women as young as 20 and as old as 80 are becoming homeowners for the first time.”

Women’s ages at time of first-time home purchase

Graphic: Lightstone Property

Unsurprisingly, Lightstone’s data shows that the proportion of single women who have received government subsidies is highest in provinces such as Limpopo, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal, where the proportion of women to men is highest.

Single women as proportion of government subsidy recipients

Graphic: Lightstone Property

South African-based non-profit news agency GroundUp says the allocation of government-built houses is complex and that there are many municipal and provincial systems at play. Broadly speaking, other than RDP/BNG housing (BNG houses are intended to be larger than RDP houses), other forms of subsidised accommodation include:

  • Community Residential Units: aimed at households earning less than R3,500 per month, and for rent, not sale
  • Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme: provides running water, sanitation, electricity and roads to informal settlements, but not necessarily houses
  • Emergency Housing Programme
  • Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP): is one example of a state-driven housing initiative for those earning more than R3,500 but less than R22,000 per month (which is the minimum amount needed to qualify for a home loan from a bank)
  • Social Housing Programme: mainly (although not only) for households earning between R3,500 and R7,500 per month.

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