Hillbrow’s slum blocks turned into housing

© Business Day

Chantelle Benjamin

THE City of Johannesburg’s inner-city regeneration arm, the Johannesburg Housing Company, is making strides in Hillbrow’s rejuvenation, taking derelict blocks and turning them into housing.

Tenants will be moving next month into the refurbished Rondebosch, in Pietersen Street.

The block has had a R3,5m makeover. It has 77 bachelor and one-room flats costing between R600 and R850 a month.

Rondebosch, together with an another building across the road, forms part of the eKhaya Neighbourhood Programme aimed at providing attractive, low-cost housing in Hillbrow and at upgrading the area.

This is part of a regeneration project called the Precinct Development Programme.

According to Dombolo Masilela, Johannesburg Housing Company marketing communications manager, 26 property owners in the area have joined efforts to clean up grime, crime and social problems and hopefully to restore the bustling suburb to the glory of its former years.

“It was pointless running good buildings but having tenants who were not able to step outside the confines of the block of flats.

“We started talking about problems affecting us; crime, bad buildings, municipal problems, lack of facilities, and dirt.

“But we cannot succeed without the assistance and support of government at local, provincial and national level, as well as the private sector,” said Masilela.

The Johannesburg Housing Company currently owns about 1800 housing units in 20 buildings, making up 8% of inner-city housing.

The company was formed in 1995 to assist with inner-city regeneration and to provide affordable housing for city residents.

Its mandate is to provide housing for those earning less than R3500 a month.

Initial funding to set up the company came from sources such as the European Union and the Flemish government.

It also gets subsidies from the Gauteng provincial government and funding from the City of Johannesburg.