SA IS capable of providing affordable housing for all its citizens provided key stakeholders work closer together, according to an analyst.

At least 2.1-million houses needed to be built to clear the backlog, which is being exacerbated by rapid urbanisation, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, said earlier this year.

However, many find themselves in the so-called gap housing market — earning too little to access private housing loans but too much to qualify for the government’s housing subsidy.

According to Rob McGaffin, convener of a housing finance course at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, the housing sector needs to start developing a better understanding of the complexities of providing housing for different markets, as well as a subtler understanding of existing submarkets.

"Right now, there is not a thorough understanding of the challenges experienced in the different parts of the system and this is hampering housing delivery," McGaffin said last week.

He said while fingers are often pointed at the government for lack of delivery, the situation is a lot more complex. "There certainly is no single solution; no silver bullet," said McGaffin.

Part of the problem, said McGaffin, lies in the fact that there is a "substantial disconnect" between the two key groups operating in this space: financers and builders.

"These two groups often operate in very separate spheres, each do not fully understanding the larger housing and housing finance systems. And creating an understanding between them of exactly how these systems operate and how they are affected by changes and interventions is an important first step in addressing the mounting housing backlog."

McGaffin said the providers of housing often accuse the housing finance sector of an unwillingness to lend to the so-called affordable markets — the lower end of the market — without fully appreciating that the ability of financial institutions to raise funding to lend into that market is limited.

Housing providers often do not see where the finance for these projects is raised, who invests in that market and what their requirements are, he said.

"To stand a chance of turning the tide on the growing backlog of affordable housing, we first need to better understand the issues within the industry, and secondly, we need to work together to develop solutions," said McGaffin.

Sisulu said recently the state alone cannot address housing challenges faced by the country. The government, the private sector and communities needed to work closer together, she said.

In May, the minister announced the establishment of the Government Employee Housing Scheme, which would cater for the gap housing market.

"We will act as guarantors to the banks, in order for the banks to make bonds available to government employees. What we commit to the banks, is to ensure that the monthly repayments will be deducted from the salaries."

Meanwhile, Cape Town is looking to partner with the private sector in its plans to make more low-cost housing available closer to the central business district.

Benedicta van Minnen, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the city had set aside R230m in the current financial year for housing, as it looked to increase the development of affordable housing.