Securing just and equitable access in urban spaces

The establishment of sustainable human settlements requires land redistribution, restitution and long-term spatial planning in urban, peri-urban and rural-town contexts.

It requires not just the provision of housing, but also potable water, sanitation, electricity and other basic services. We assist our clients, particularly large communities, in realising the rights that ensure the delivery of these services. In this regard, we also work with a range of different housing- and planning groups and with those based in tertiary institutions who are involved in related fields of research, analysis and teaching.

In realising the right to housing, community engagement with the spatial planning and land-use management functions of our municipalities is imperative to enable a shift from apartheid discrimination, to the inclusion of poor communities who currently remain in vulnerable conditions.

Unfortunately, persistent corruption affecting service provision and housing development has resulted in wasteful expenditure and unnecessary delays, compromising the provision of housing and services to millions of people who live on the margins of society in informal settlements, on pockets of privately owned land, in abandoned and occupied buildings in the inner cities, and in rural settlements. A significant area of the LRC’s work has been to fight this corruption through litigating the right of access to housing and reforming the law relating to evictions.

The LRC continues to protect the rights of victims of unlawful housing schemes and non-complaint, irresponsible lenders, and provides support to people to enable them to obtain documentation needed to secure their tenure.

The LRC also undertakes work to secure the rights and livelihoods of informal traders. The informal sector is often a disregarded source of economic activity and employment, and informal traders suffer discrimination and impunity at the hands of police and local officials. Our work with informal traders forms part of efforts to find ways to ensure that municipal governance happens in ways that serves the interests of the poor and marginalised.

The LRC works with a number of organisations internationally, through structures such as the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). We assist with litigation, contributing to law reform within the informal sector, and those laws relating to urban planning, informal trade and economic inclusion.