The Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) is planning to collaborate and develop mechanisms to remove bottlenecks in its pipeline of projects in an effort to roll out a greater number of affordable housing units, says SHRA CEO Rory Gallocher.
He spoke during the SHRA’s virtual investment summit on September 30, during which he pointed out that, for the past five years, the SHRA project pipeline had been limited to introducing only between 3 000 and 3 500 units a year.
The debottlenecking of the project pipeline and speeding up of getting more units to market each year will also assist the SHRA in its effort to contribute to the national Covid-19 economic recovery plan, as such efforts will create jobs and spur economic activity, Gallocher alludes.
“The SHRA is trying to shift from a response-based approach to [a] target of 30 000 to 37 000 units, to a more proactive approach,” he says. As such, Gallocher says the SHRA is planning to be more proactive in “going out to find these projects”, instead of waiting for them to materialise.
In this regard, he says the SHRA wants to be in a position to put out calls for expressions of interest. “We want to make sure that we broaden the pipeline.”
In its efforts to break through the 3 000 to 3 500 unit mark, Gallocher says the SHRA has “tried everything”. As such, he points out that the SHRA has doubled staff capacity, to 47 people; but still remains a lean organisation.
Gallocher adds that the SHRA has also rewritten standard operating procedures, trained staff and employed performance management solutions to drive efficiency, but has still not been able to breach the 3 000 to 3 500 unit threshold.
“Some role-players might have good ideas about what we are doing wrong and we are interested in listening to those ideas,” he says.
“It is the goal of SHRA to double or triple this [3 500 cap],” states Gallocher.
Efforts to debottleneck operations started with the SHRA conducting a “reality check”, he says, adding that this found that the organisation has been operating too remotely and that it should do less “paper pushing”, and instead conduct more conversations with stakeholders to build relationships.
He says “working on the job of delivering more houses” will involve undertaking more open talks with stakeholders to help to build better relationships and trust to “get the job done”, says Gallocher.
Other efforts to be undertaken by the SHRA include additional funding to supplement the grant coming from government, through the Department of Human Settlements, to the SHRA.
“This grant is futile if we do not have a number of other ingredients to make this work,” he says. Therefore, Gallocher says counter-funding is required, which could be in the form of debt or blended financing in the form of equity.
Further, he says the SHRA needs well-located land, some of which may be under the ownership of large developers who are yet to use it. “Some of the large developers are sitting on land – we want to talk to them about that land, especially if it is well located.”
The SHRA also needs speedy planning approvals, because without that and the bulk infrastructure investment, the SHRA will still not able to deliver more units.