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[ADVOCACY] SERI's Lauren Royston speaks on international virtual panel discussion on housing justice (3 April 2024).

IIED panel LR 22MARCHOn 22 March 2024, SERI’s Lauren Royston participated in an online panel discussion on “Housing justice: securing affordable inner-city homes through retrofitting” jointly hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Architecture Sans Frontieres (ASF-UK). Lauren spoke on a panel alongside Sifiso Mtimunye (1to1 Agency of Engagement), Ricardo Moretti (Universidade de Brasília), Saskia O'Hara (Public Interest Law Centre - PILC), Beatrice De Carli (ASF-UK). Alexandre Apsan Frediani from IIED moderated the discussion. About 76 people attended the virtual panel discussion.

The panellists discussed the issue of housing justice from their local perspectives (South Africa, Brazil, and the United Kingdom), as well as the precarious living circumstances of low-income households, and their struggles to access housing in the cities.

Lauren discussed the legal framework for housing access in South Africa, the history that necessitated such a legal framework, and the key problems that affect access to housing in the inner city of Johannesburg for poor households. In particular, she argued that the inner city is plagued by very little urban and building management even in cases where people have been relocated to temporary alternative accommodation, recalcitrance and non-compliance with court orders, social stigmatization and discrimination against foreign nationals, and the reliance on pejorative terms that further stigmatise and criminalise low-income inner-city residents in occupied buildings. She argued for a range of interventions that could help address the inner city crisis, namely:

  • That basic services to all emergency temporary accommodation be provided;
  • Vacant buildings be audited;
  • Buildings be categorised similarly to how informal settlements for upgrading are,
  • Relocation takes place in due course and carried out in consultation with residents, and 
  • Buildings are incrementally upgraded.

ASF UK Adequate housing guide coversBeatrice De Carli of ASF-UK also discussed some of the collaborative work that ASF-UK did in the aftermath of the Usindiso Building fire of August 2023 with 1to1 Agency of Engagement, including the development of a new guide entitled, "Our Right to Adequate Housing" which is available in English and Sotho (with IsiZulu forthcoming).  SERI, Inner City Federation (ICF), Inner City Resource Centre (ICRC), and 1to1 participated in a peer-learning workshop hosted by ASF-UK in September 2023, which resulted in the new housing guide.

  • Watch a video recording of this event here.