JHC initiated the eKhaya Neighbourhood Improvement Programme in Hillbrow, in 2004. It was the first of its kind in a high density, predominantly residential, inner city neighbourhood.
At the time, JHC owned three buildings in the neighbourhood (these have increased over the years). With Makhulong and an appointed eKhaya coordinator, it laid the groundwork for the new neighbourhood association to take form, to drive improved safety, cleanliness, accountability and good order, and to improve the public environment, making a positive contribution to neighbourhood renewal in this part of the city.
The eKhaya Neighbourhood Association subsequently found its own path, forging relationships among property owners, building caretakers, City agencies, residents and other neighbourhood community organisations.
More and more property owners have joined the association so that it how has about 17 members and about 30 affiliated buildings. Today the eKhaya Neighbourhood encompasses about 15 city blocks as well as nearby residential clusters.
eKhaya has implemented a series of campaigns which have seen a steady improvement in the neighbourhood environment. A growing number of buildings have been freshly renovated; the streets and lanes have been cleaned up; people feel safer walking in the area; and outdoor recreation spaces and parks have been reclaimed or newly developed. The association has established neighbourhood safety patrols and cleaning services and, working with the local police station and the Hillbrow sector community policing forum, has made a significant impact in reducing crime in the neighbourhood.
eKhaya also organises community events – such as the annual eKhaya Kidz Day and the eKhaya Streetsoccer Tournaments – which all residents can enjoy.
In 2009, eKhaya was awarded grant funding from the City of Johannesburg to establish the eKhaya Neighbourhood as the first formal residential city improvement district (CID) in the inner city. This is a significant step for eKhaya and supports its longer term sustainability. Once the CID is established as a legal entity, all property owners in the neighbourhood will be legally obliged to pay their part of the costs of running the CID, with its supplementary services and neighbourhood development programmes.
To date, the eKhaya Neighbourhood Association has been entirely funded by its members. The association involves property owners from the social housing sector – both government and non-government organisations – as well as from the private sector. These property owners, with traditionally disparate interests, have found common ground in their focus on improving the neighbourhood, not only to protect their own property values but also to improve the quality of life for the people who live and work there and to contribute to the overall socio-economic renewal of the inner city. eKhaya has made a significant difference in the lives of about 6 000 residents and others who work in the area and nearby.
Makhulong recently initiated Neighbourhood Development in Troyeville. Makhulong hosted introductory meetings where all potential stakeholders, property owners, Housing Supervisors, the Jeppe Police Station CPF and the Youth Desk with community members, church pastors, Facility managers, Hollard who own a house which has been converted into a training centre in the neighbourhood and NGOs to share their vision for the area. A lot of progress has been made in this regard to initiate a neighbourhood development programme to curb all the challenges in the area, including crime, lack of access and the utilisation of community facilities due to them having been taken over by criminal elements.
A number of property owners in the Ekhaya North Precinct were invited to a meeting to discuss the replication of Ekhaya1 in the said precinct. The landlords unanimously agreed with the proposal and nominated a steering committee to work together with the Coordinator to initiate a neighbourhood development project in the area. Makhulong is working directly and closely with the Coordinator in the establishment of this precinct.