First tenants move into Brickfields homes

By Lucky Sindane

© Johannesburg Development Agency 20050701

It is early on Friday morning and a queue of people, carrying white envelopes containing lease contracts, is forming outside the new Brickfields housing development in Newtown.

They are here to get the keys to their new homes, the first group of 300 tenants moving into the innovative, 600-unit block, on Friday, 1 July.

Brickfields, an initiative overseen by the Johannesburg Housing Company, offers one- to three-bedroomed flats catering for a range of people across income groups.

While truckloads of furniture drive up to the building, the tenants are busily inspecting their new homes.

"You have to check everything when you move in because you are going to be charged for any faults when you move out," says Thandukwazi Skhosana. "This is really a nice place. I really like it."

The R98,7-million Brickfields project is the largest ever public-private partnership in housing development in South Africa, and the first residential development in Joburg's inner city in the past 30 years.

"The influx of residents into Newtown is expected to breathe new life into the inner city," says Johannesburg Housing Company's Dombolo Masilela, "and will contribute largely to this area growing into a major shopping, entertainment, business, retail and residential hub."

The housing company, established in 1995, has invested R112-million in 1 756 housing units in the inner city, R22-million of that in the form of direct housing subsidies. In the process, it has added 5 percent to the city's housing stock.

"I'm very excited to be a tenant here at Brickfields. The night life in Newtown rocks and I will also walk to work and to the Johannesburg University," says Thabiso Phinda.

Enoch Shishenge, an artist, says that now he is living in Newtown, he will meet fellow artists more often.

"Newtown is the place to be; I know what people talk about when they talk about Newtown. This is also going to be a wonderful experience because of the different cultures here at Brickfields."

The Brickfields housing project is now in its second phase, during which a further 350 to 400 housing units will be built at a cost of about R100-million.

The project is a joint venture between the Gauteng housing department, the Gauteng Partnership Fund, Anglo American Corporation, Absa, ApexHi and Anglo Gold. The National Housing Finance Corporation injected R25-million into the development and the City of Johannesburg provided the land.