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Resources for affordable housing and rental

COVID-19 Responses Collection

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Nosizo Sebake

26 July 2020

Mark Napier


Nosizo Sebake

Information page

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

South Africa

This page forms part of the COVID-19 Responses Collection.


Here we present publications and guidelines for affordable housing and rental.


Publications, articles and blog posts

  • Addressing Affordable Housing Challenges in the Midst of Covid-19. This document outlines the challenges the American affordable housing sector currently faces as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also describes various relief and stimulus measure the US Congress has considered to address the immediate and longer-term impacts of the pandemic.
  • Affordable housing as a response to Covid-19. Davis (2020) in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlights the urgency for affordable housing at scale – not only for this emergency but also for the prevention of future pandemics from tearing through poor urban communities and to resuscitate economies decimated by the disease.
    • "Covid-19 demonstrates just how interconnected the world really is... An uncontrolled pandemic in the slums of Africa and Asia is as much the world’s problem as one in Italian ski resorts or downtown New York. Our collective response must support those on low incomes for the benefit of us all."
  • Affordable housing owners work to meet the needs of seniors during Covid-19. In this blog post, Kimura (2020) considers the impact that Covid-19 has had on older people, particularly those with underlying health conditions. She discusses how affordable housing owners and service providers, in America, have adapted their assistance to their more vulnerable residents.

    • "One of the first things we realized is the value of service coordination—whether residents can see you face to face or talk with you on the phone." 
  • Covid and housing – amplifying the need for solutions. In this blog Melzer and Rust discuss the need to focus on specific interventions for South Africa’s affordable housing market to make households more resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Covid-19 and housing – strategies for resilience in South Africa. Melzer and Rust (2020) "discuss the need to focus on specific interventions for South Africa’s affordable housing market to make households more resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic."
  • Covid-19 crisis likely to have longer term impact on the Transaction Support Centre. This article highlights the longer-term impact that Covid-19 is likely to have on the Transaction Support Centre office in Cape Town. "The immediate impact of Covid-19, followed by a prolonged period of no, or very limited economic growth, may dampen demand in entry-level housing markets, and recent increases in property values we have seen in some low-income neighbourhoods may be reversed."

  • Covid-19 in South Africa – An overview of the NGO funding situation and fundraising efforts. This website highlights the fundraising efforts of NGOs and their Covid-19-related interventions.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic as an imperative for pragmatic and sustainable solutions to the affordable housing and urban development challenges in Africa. Gumbo (2020) outlines the inherent risks that the Covid-19 pandemic poses to a vast majority of African people who live in informal settlements. He discusses the role that Shelter Afrique and other related African built environment stakeholders have in providing innovative solutions to the affordable housing and urban development challenges in the region.

  • Housing crisis more complex than it seems. Horber (2020) discusses the complexity of South Africa's housing crisis. Reflecting on the recent violent eviction of a naked man from his shack, the author states that "many more evictions will happen, and the dignity and rights of many more people will be violated if we do not look at the broader picture, and address the root causes of these human rights violations."

  • Housing is both a prevention & cure for Covid-19. In this article, Mohd and Farha (2020) discuss among other challenges, the impracticality of self-isolating or social distancing for those living in poor or inadequate housing. In so doing, they highlight the role of housing as both a prevention and cure in the face of the pandemic.

    • "...living conditions in poor or inadequate housing actually create a higher risk of infection whether from overcrowding which inhibits physical distancing or a lack of proper sanitation that make regular hand-washing difficult"
  • Housing policy during COVID-19 crisis: Challenges and solutions. In this article, Kholodilin (2020) presents a detailed analysis of the plans and actual measures undertaken to help tenants and homeowners during the Covid-19 pandemic. The author examines the advantages and disadvantages of these measures based on the experience of various countries.
  • "Housing, the front line defence against the Covid-19 outbreak," says UN expert. In this blog post by Africa Housing News (2020), Fahra expresses her concern about two specific population groups: those living in emergency shelters, homelessness, and informal settlements, and those facing job loss and economic hardship which could result in mortgage and rental arrears and evictions. She urges countries to "take extraordinary measures to secure the right to housing for all to protect against the pandemic."
  • How COVID-19 Impacted Housing in Europe. In this article, the Habitat for Humanity International gives us an idea of how was housing in Europe before COVID-19, the impact of the pandemic on housing and what are the opportunities they have identified during the pandemic. 
  • How Covid-19 is affecting affordable housing (so far). Kimura (2020) interviews several industry leaders to share their perspectives on Covid-19 and what may be coming. "Times like these are a reminder that affordable housing is one of the most basic of human needs. The gap between need and supply is never more evident than when our collective well-being is threatened and those with limited resources find themselves least able to weather whatever the 'storm' is."

  • Making housing affordable after Covid-19: A follow up report from the Affordable Housing Commission. In this blog post, the Affordable Housing Commission recommends that the UK government take initiative to put in place a 12 point housing-led recovery plan. The report is available here. "Replace the unaffordable ‘Affordable Rent’ model with more social renting (based on rents at a third of household net incomes of the intended occupiers)"

  • Measures taken by Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries to counter the effects of Covid-19 in the Housing Sector. This report "illustrates measures taken by countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region, to counter the effects of Covid-19 in their housing sectors. [It specifically] sets out measures relating to leasing or rental, and to mortgage credit." (Minurvi, 2020)

  • State of disaster: what is Covid-19 teaching us about housing in Africa? "The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the persistent state of disaster facing a majority of households across the continent, whether they live in informal settlements, tenement blocks, inner city buildings, lower-income townships, and whether they rent, or own, or share. At the most basic level this has to do with households’ access to water, sanitation, electricity, food security, tenure security, and the ability to achieve sustainable livelihoods, not to mention space to make social distancing possible. These are not new crises that households are facing; they have persisted and been left unresolved forever." (Rust, 2020)

  • Stay home: what does Covid-19 mean for affordable housing in Africa? Rust (2020) highlights the inability of households in informal settlements to cope in their current inadequate housing conditions. "Informal structures," she says, "are often poorly ventilated and overcrowded – a recipe for infection. The informal settlements in which they exist are dense, with extremely limited access services and health facilities."

  • Strategies for increasing affordable housing amid the Covid-19 economic crisis. Ellen, Graves, O'Regan and Schuetz (2020) echo the concern of those who have written about the risk numerous people living in poor-quality, overcrowded or unstable housing face. They discuss a number of ways that the American government can support affordable housing across the country. In particular, they explore strategies aimed at increasing the amount of long-term affordable rental housing, especially in for what they call 'high-opportunity communities'.

  • Unpacking the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the South African economy and the housing sector. In this blog post, Lockwood (2020) sets out an approach to considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the South Africa economy. He emphasizes the importance of housing construction in responding to this pandemic.

  • What Role Can Affordable Housing Play in the Economic Comeback? Kimura (2020) explains, in this blog post, that Covid-19 makes the existing need for affordable housing more pressing as unemployment rises.

    • "A staggering 33 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in recent weeks... The loss of jobs puts families at risk of homelessness and creates an even greater need for affordable housing."


    • Covid-19 Guidance Note: Protecting renters and mortgage payers. Farha (March 2020) in this United Nations Human Rights Special Procedures, gives guidance on measures countries must undertake to ensure that all renters and homeowners can successfully "stay home", help flatten the pandemic curve and emerge from this crisis with both a sustainable and resilient housing system.
      • "Prohibit evictions and the threat of eviction (e.g. legal notice to evict) due to arrears of rental, mortgage or utility payments during the pandemic period and for a reasonable period thereafter."

    Photo Credit: Settlement in inner-city Kampala, Uganda (CAHF)


    Website References

    Adequacy of shelter

    Affordable housing

    Built environment




    Human settlements

    Poverty & inequality

    Rental tenure


    South Africa


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