INFORMAL SETTLEMENT UPGRADING... The existence of expansive informal settlements in most African cities is deemed as an indication of failure of the public sector, the legislative framework and the economy to provide conditions through which the poor may be housed formally, whether this is through government programmes or private means. Indeed housing preferences and informal settlement upgrading pose a serious challenge to most local authorities, and have become a core focus in municipal housing units in South Africa. ...BENEFICIARIES' PREFERENCES... The main objective of this paper is to explore the outcomes of Lamontville informal settlement upgrading project in Durban, and to be able to see through the beneficiaries’ eyes if houses that have been built for them is what they had always desired. The aim is to bring out the informal settlement upgrading experiences as perceived by the beneficiaries ...AND THE NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT... There is need for a paradigm shift in the way in which informal settlement upgrading is executed at the municipality level. There should be extensive involvement of the civil society, non-governmental organizations and communities at large.