One in five S.African families live in subsidised housing

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About 19 percent of South African households live in government-subsidised homes, and another 13 percent are waiting for one, the national statistics agency said Thursday.

South Africa has spent billions of dollars to provide housing to the poor, but the government's annual general household survey showed that the portion of households living in shacks has remained steady at about 13 percent since 2002.

Despite building millions of homes since apartheid, when blacks were forced to live on the edge of cities, housing remains a massive pressure on the state.

The country's 2011 housing budget was increased by 38 percent to 22.5 billion rands ($3.3 billion, 2.3 billion euros).

But authorities still regularly battle protests in shantytowns by destitute black residents angered by rampant joblessness and poor amenities like water, toilets and electricity.

The survey by Statistics South Africa found that government has expanded access to basic services, but that the public is increasingly unhappy about the quality of those services.

The percentage of homes with access to electricity rose from 76.8 percent in 2002 to 82 percent last year. Homes receiving piped water also rose from 78.2 percent to 84.1 percent over the same period.

Sanitation also improved. The portion of homes without toilets fell from 12.6 percent to 5.9 percent, the survey said.

"Continued improvements in access to basic services are, however, increasingly being stained by dissatisfaction with the quality of these services," the survey said.

"In the case of housing, 17.2 percent of those occupying state-subsidised structures rated the walls as weak or very weak while 17.9 percent said the roof was weak or very weak," it said.

© 2011 AFP

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