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                      Office of the Press Secretary
                        (Capetown, South Africa)

For Immediate Release March 26, 1998


Visit to Victoria Mxenge Housing Savings Scheme

The Victoria Mxenge Housing Savings Scheme was organized in 1992. It now has approximately 280 members, all of whom are women. This is one of nearly 800 savings plans that have been established in South Africa to enable shanty town residents to build and own their own homes. The housing site was named after Victoria Mxenge (em-KEN-gay), an anti-apartheid lawyer who was assassinated during the anti-apartheid struggle.

The first house was built in 1996 on land donated by the Catholic Church. When the First Lady visited in March, 1997, 18 houses had been completed, and the foundation had been laid for the community center. Today there are 104 homes, housing approximately 400 residents. The community center has been completed, and another 44 homes are planes. The Mxenge Scheme has purchased a second plot of land on which it eventually hopes to build an additional 230 homes.

The average cost of a home in Victoria Mxenge is 12,000 Rand (approximately $2,400). The members of the savings plan receive assistance from two non-governmental organizations, Peoples Dialogue and The Homeless Peoples Foundation. The National Coordinator for the Federation, Patricia Matolange, was named the South Africa's National Housing Person of the Year in 1996 and 1997.

USAID is providing $300,000 two-year grant to the Peoples Dialogue and Homeless People Federation for technical assistance to Victoria Mxenge. The year, USAID is also providing $3,000,000 in grants to South Africa's Ministry of housing and infrastructure development in needy communities throughout the country.