LEGISLATING ACCESS AND REDRESSING INEQUALITY? THE COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT AND MORTGAGE LENDING IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA
Freeman, Allison Tucker
South Africa's brutal apartheid system came to an official end in 1994, when the African National Congress (ANC) won the majority of seats in the country's first democratic elections. Since that time, the ANC-led government has struggled with the challenge of redressing the inequitable access to resources and opportunity resulting from South Africa's history. Community reinvestment legislation is one tool in this effort, and the dissertation considers the following question: is a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) an effective means through which to redress unequal access to housing finance, and thereby unequal access to housing, in post-apartheid South Africa. The study sheds light on three broader questions. First, can legislative efforts be as effective when used to promote access to resources and opportunity as they are when used to bar access to resources and opportunity? Second, what are the real possibilities of effecting a redistribution of resources in a society on the capitalist periphery? Third, can the tools of capitalism be used to correct the inequitable distribution of resources created by apartheid's racist form of capitalism? The study concludes that the answer to the question regarding the effectiveness of a CRA is "no." Through analysis of 30 interviews with bankers, government officials, housing and lending specialists, and community activists and through regression analysis of the geographic distribution of bank loans throughout South Africa's Gauteng Province, it is determined that the provisions in South Africa's draft Community Reinvestment Bill would neither have broadened access to the country's banks nor increased the flow of funds into previously marginalized communities. The study moves from examination of the draft legislation's structural failures to consider its procedural failures, providing a detailed examination of the political and economic factors that led to CRA's withdrawal from the legislative agenda. Following this, the study explains why, given the inappropriate structure of the proposed CRA and the limited likelihood that it would be accepted by the necessary range of actors in South Africa, the Department of Housing nevertheless attempted its passage.
William Goldsmith, Rolf Pendall, Sandra Greene
Graduate School of Cornell University, Department of City and Regional Planning of Cornell University, Mario Einaudi Center of Cornell University, Institute for African Development of Cornell University, Program on International Studies in Planning of Cornell University, Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Department of International Relations and Law and Politics of Mount Holyoke College
South Africa; Community Reinvestment Act; CRA; mortgage lending; affordable housing; housing finance
dissertation or thesis