Quality of Life, Why Not?

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

When living in an upmarket suburban area, or in an affordable housing development, what matters most is a positive outcome that provides occupants with an overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. In addition to meeting a universal need for comfortable living conditions, is a lifestyle where optimum functionality within immediate and neighbouring surroundings can be achieved. One that leads to communities who thrive at all levels, including employment, schooling, health, and social interaction.

For many, the inconvenience of not having schools or shopping malls within close proximity from their homes would prevent them from buying or renting a new home in a certain area. And for others, a location where the travelling distance between the workplace and home is reasonable will result in them signing on the dotted line. For good reason then that transport facilities, from the use of cars to buses, taxis and trains, contribute significantly to a practical lifestyle. Property professionals, including real estate agents to developers play a meaningful role in successful relocations of members of the community. Painless transitions resulting from close proximity to public infrastructure and local amenities have both time and cost saving effects.

As a result, the need for greater availability of housing in all sectors of the market closer to community based infrastructure has lead to an emerging trend over the past two years. Large-scale housing developments closer to schools, shopping centers, hospitals and public transport are increasingly seen. Commenting on this trend is Soula Proxenos, of International Housing Solutions (IHS), a global private equity provider partnering with local developers to construct affordable housing opportunities nationally. She says: “We have long held the belief that lower cost does not have to mean lower quality, and that affordable housing can make a positive impact to the lives of communities beyond providing shelter. “

Proxenos says that social objectives in constructing affordable housing are aimed to include upliftment of communities by creating integrated societies, with quality houses, crèches, schools, community and training centres. This emerging trend has seen most of IHS’s developments during the past two years incorporating aesthetically pleasing designs that also feature terraced landscaping and security measures.

A recently released Social Impact Report on the Derived Social Benefits of Occupying Affordable Housing in SA was conducted by independent housing economist Francois Viruly from the University of Cape Town. This study found that tenants and owners of affordable housing units built in the past 2 years overwhelmingly reported improvements in their quality of life and access to local amenities.

The 10-month long study audited the social and economic impact of affordable housing developments commissioned by IHS worth in excess of R7.8 billion, and questioned partnering developers as well as occupants of these homes.

Residents who were polled and asked to compare their current homes to previous living circumstances, indicated a partial or complete improvement. Specific improvements relate to closer proximity to public transport than before, especially in children reaching schools in much reduced times. Households also reported significant improvements of the quality of life of children, overall health, quality of homes, social lives and leisure activities, education, employment, and notably improved monthly incomes.

Also noting a market improvement were students who were living in the new breed of affordable housing developments, reporting major improvements in their access to education, as well as in their social lives.

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