Top-down or state-driven low-cost housing supply in most African cities occurs in contexts of rapid urbanisation and great socio-spatial disparity, where the majority of low-income populations reside in areas without adequate living and housing conditions. This article critically examines this kind of intervention, focusing on bottom-up responses to it, expressed in appropriation processes at different levels, and the spatial consequences, exploring how they contribute to potentially reducing these disparities. Taking as its case study the Mozambican capital, Maputo, in the current neoliberal context, the article argues that the results of these top-down or state-driven interventions are contradictory and do not always translate into the reduction of socio-spatial disparities. Results depend on factors such as the motives behind each intervention, their process of implementation, characteristics and phase of development. It concludes that low-cost housing supply in Maputo functions firstly as a way of minimising the hardships of the displacement processes that usually lie behind its provision. Although the subsequent upgrading of these areas, and of the surrounding areas consequently occupied, may contribute to the reduction of social-spatial disparities, it also tends to promote gentrification processes and exclude the urban poor.