Building Houses or Creating Homes: Housing Development Programs and Quality of Life in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Anthropology. American University
This dissertation examines the impact of government housing projects on the poor in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The research explores whether the participation and involvement in housing development projects lead to a greater quality of life for the poor and help them with greater access to jobs, quality housing, services, and community. It also addresses how the beneficiaries of housing development projects participated within the projects and analyzes the benefits and drawbacks of housing development programs in meeting the needs of the poor. The research uses theoretical concepts such as poverty, housing, quality of life, and community to contextualize and to explain the situation for the poor and their need for shelter, employment, and services. This dissertation is based on ethnographic research conducted on beneficiary poor populations directly affected by housing development projects in the city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa from October 2005 to June 2006. The development projects used for the research were the Sakhasonke housing subsidy project in Port Elizabeth's Walmer Township and the township of Wells Estate, a resettlement community. Some of the main findings from the research were: 1) receiving quality housing had a significant impact on the quality of life of the residents and they were pleased with the type of housing they received compared to their previous residence, yet their access to jobs and income was still a main concern; 2) Sakhasonke residents communicated more frequently with project developers and management compared to the people of Wells Estate, which led to the Sakhasonke residents having greater understanding of how the project would impact their quality of life; and 3) community and social trust decreased for the people of Wells Estate after they moved to their new homes compared to what they experienced in the their former residences, which leads to further discussion of how new housing can have a significant impact on beneficiaries' ability to develop a sense of community and a greater quality of life.
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