JHC is unique among social housing institutions in South Africa, and among non-government organisations more broadly, in upholding the balance between the financial and social objectives that are core to its mission.
In community development JHC introduced the approach of investing in social capital, encouraging and supporting individuals and the wider tenant community to develop their life skills, to participate in the larger society, and to build the social bonds, community relations and civic commitments that enable healthy communities to grow.
Over the past 17 years, in providing housing for low and middle income communities across the Johannesburg inner city and now also in Greater Johannesburg, JHC has recognised that while bricks and mortar are important, community building is as important – turning houses into homes and making buildings places where individuals, families and communities can grow and thrive.
It has also learned that community building takes time, focus and commitment.
At JHC, community development starts at the level of the individual building. It requires, first, a sense of good order and stability which JHC provides through the regularity and responsiveness of good building management.
Beyond that, it requires what JHC’s community development wing, Makhulong A Matala, has put in place over time – a range of structured, organised community development programmes and activities that people can identify with and participate in. These offer tenants various opportunities for social interaction and community engagement. They form the framework for the weave of community links and relationships to evolve.
From activities in individual buildings, further opportunities arise among tenants in clusters of buildings. And from clusters of buildings, the momentum of community development extends into neighbourhood development – formally, as in the eKhaya Neighbourhood in Hillbrow, or simply by influence in other parts of the city.