A decade of housing Joburgers

© Johannesburg News Agency
By Lucky Sindane

The Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC) is 10 years old, celebrating its birthday at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein last week.

The board, staff members and children from JHC buildings, who entertained the guests with music, attended the party.

Over the past 10 years JHC's board, staff, tenants, consultants, contractors and service providers have built 2 403 homes in 21 buildings, adding 8 percent to residential stock in the inner city. Some 8 000 men, women and children now call a JHC building their "home".

Speaking at the birthday party, chairman Murphy Morobe said, "Ten years was both 'a long and a very short time' for a project as ambitious as the JHC.

"Way back in 1995, standing on the cusp of South Africa's new democracy and located in the urban jungle of Johannesburg's inner city, a sustainable organisation, providing not merely shelter, but a home in the city to 8 000 men women and children, was indeed the stuff of dreams," he said.

"It is with great pride that JHC's staff, board and partners can look back on our first 10 years and with confidence that we can face the future."

Over the decade, staff numbers have grown from two to 40. Financially JHC has shown incredible growth too.

A major achievement was made when rental income covered operating costs for the first time in 2003. Two years later funds were available for investment purposes.

"As an institution, the JHC is a major landmark. It has survived the formidable challenges of the urban battleground that is Johannesburg's inner city and has contributed to its trajectory of change, growth and stability," said chief executive officer Taffy Adler.

"Not only is JHC now one of the largest residential landlords in the inner city, but its contribution to the City coffers for rates and utilities stands out not only for its size, but because what were once non-paying derelict properties are now productive contributors to the City's fiscus," he added.

Within 10 years, JHC has grown to generate rental income of R36,1 million (as at June 2005); it ended the year with a net operating income of R11,5 million. Net reserves over the period have grown to R27,7 million.

JHC standards of management and maintenance of its buildings are international best practice and levels of customer satisfaction, rental arrears, innovative architectural design and rigorous construction have become a trademark, as has its fair and caring approach to building management and administration.

The company achieves excellence through its environmentally friendly buildings, preserving heritage, its community development programmes for tenants and its new eKhaya Neighbourhood Programme, whereby landowners around Pietersen Street in Hillbrow have got together to upgrade the whole neighbourhood.

It has also won many awards, including several housing, environmental and architectural awards. The new Brickfields development, in which JHC was a partner, in Newtown, made history this year as the largest private-public partnership residential housing development ever in South Africa.

It was also the first residential development in the inner city in the past 30 years. The first 550 units took 18 months from sod-turning to completion, requiring more than 6 million bricks and 500 tons of concrete.

Within one month of operating the building was 90 percent full, providing homes for an additional 1 500 people.

For more information on JHC or any of its projects, contact Dombolo Masilela on 011 241 6900.