Apartheid spatial planning has deprived most people, especially the African majority of opportunities including decent shelter and formal human settlements. The government has thus recognised housing provision as a fundamental component in changing the lives of poor people, particularly in areas that were neglected during the apartheid government's rule. The Reconstruction Development Programme (RDP) is the commitment of the Democratic Government to deal with housing problems within the country. The study was aimed at conducting an assessment of the impact of low-cost housing in small towns. This was done through a comparison between two small municipalities of Nkandla and Umzimkhulu. The study employed a mixed-method approach to study the research aim and objectives. The approach consisted of qualitative and quantitative datasets.
The quantitative data was obtained by means of a questionnaire, while the qualitative data was obtained by conducting key informant interviews. A random sampling approach was used to recruit study participants. This sampling approach was useful in reducing biases in the sampled population and thus increasing the reliability of the study findings. A total of 100 people (n=100) were sampled from the study areas by selecting 50 participants from each community. The two key informants (n= 2) that were interviewed in the study were selected through a purposive sampling method. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics and displayed using graphs and tables. The qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis. The research found that low-cost housing supply has enhanced the research areas' socio-economic status.
In both Nkandla and Umzimkhulu, low-cost houses expanded people's access to government services such as health centres, parks and schools, among others. They reduced the time it took to reach those places. The provision of the houses in the case studies exposed the communities to improved basic services such as sanitation, electricity and water.It was also found that a significant number of people were not satisfied with the quality of their houses. The complaints raised included roofs with no ceilings, doors that were difficult to open or close, and broken windows. The researcher recommended that the quality of the low-cost houses be improved. It was also recommended that the government work closely with community members to further improve the socio-economic status of the communities.