Self-help housing has long been suggested as a viable means for providing shelter to poor urban residents. One of the proposed outcomes of South Africa’s People’s Housing Process (PHP) is social cohesion at the community level. This paper looks at how neighbourly relations have been affected in two PHP housing projects in Cape Town, South Africa, and what the impact has been in terms of safety. Community cohesion and neighbourliness have diminished in both settlements following the upgrading process, although the extent seems to be greater in Freedom Park. Three main factors account for this negative impact in terms of neighbourliness and community cohesion. In Site C this relates mostly to design and settlement lay-out, whereas in Freedom Park, in addition to design, two other factors, namely residential mixing and diminished dweller control also significantly impacted on community cohesion post upgrading. Residential stability has been raised in the literature in relation to housing projects and is argued to contribute positively towards safety within neighbourhoods. The paper argues that these aspects, central to the self-help housing philosophy, can have significant impacts in terms of neighbourliness and how this manifests itself in collective strategies to improve safety.