Re: Consensus
From: National housing Forum (
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 1995 02:20:46 -0500
I'm new to this mailing list, and am interested to see how issues do 
span oceans!  Consensus has been (as you may well expect) an enormous 
issue in South Africa, especially in the housing sector.  When a 
housing policy started to be developed (in 1993-94), one of the most difficult 
issues to address was the conflict between and among communities 
around the allocation of scarce resources, and other development 
impact.  A housing capital subsidy was designed to provide families 
with a once off capital grant - either as individuals, or as part of 
housing development projects.  One of the requirements for housing 
proects was that all the relevant stakeholders (the community, the 
deveeloper, the banks, the local authority, etc) form a SOCIAL 
COMPACT, or an agreement to work together on the development and 
maintenance of the housing project.  This is to be an "instituiton" 
which represents all the interests and operates on the basis of 
consensus - not unlike you are talking about for cohousing.  A new 
development is a subsidy directed at cohousing (we call it social 
housing) - social compact agreements are also required in 
applications for those subsidies.

However, the debate around the value of consensus vs. voting - at 
both a macro (all stakeholders in the project) and a micro (the 
resident community) level has been raging for a long time.  The 
social compact requirement is currently the most criticised feature 
of the new subsidy scheme, because it gives newcomers to the projject 
the space to derail all previous agreements.... a sort of 
"consensus-entitlement" has developed which stalls both delivery and 
conflict resolution.

Is anyone interested in this debate?  Does it relate to your 
cohousing situations?  Perhaps I can send the initial policy paper 
around what social compacts are.....

Kecia Rust
PO Box 1115, Johannesburg 2000
tel. 27-11-838-2822
fax. 27-11-838-1825
email. NHF [at] WN.APC.ORG


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