The Department of Housing may be able to set up an agency responsible for acquiring land on behalf of the state, after a new Bill was passed on Thursday.
The Housing Development Agency Bill will make it possible for the department to establish the Housing Development Agency aimed at doubling the number of houses being built.
The measure will now be forwarded to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.
Speaking during a Parliamentary debate on the measure to gain more land for the purpose of building houses, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the agency would ensure that the department acquired housing land within a reasonable time.
"The rational behind the agency is that it would assist in cutting the red tape that prohibits the acquisition of suitable land.
"This is something that would be very difficult for municipalities or provincial departments to do on their own," she said.
The concept of the agency was announced by the department during a social cluster briefing earlier this year to help develop, manage and coordinate housing development countrywide.
Speaking to BuaNews in April, the minister said she hoped the agency would be operational by the end of the year.
The agency would help the department to meet its target of eradicating informal settlements by 2014.
According to the department, while some two million low-cost houses have been built since 1994, it still faces a huge and increasing demand from about 2.4 million households in informal settlements.
The department has projected that delivery will increase to 265 000 houses in 2006/07, based on a conservative estimate of 30 percent growth in the final quarter.
In order to eradicate the housing backlog, annual delivery rates of more than 400 000 units are required, at a cost of between R345 and R548 billion, with costs decreasing as the delivery rate increases.
According to the department, a delivery rate of about 500 000 housing units per year would mean the backlog could be eradicated by 2014, at a cost of about R345 billion. - BuaNews