Inner-city home to new fibre of folks

By Anna Cox
Another 200 social housing units - the last phase of the R121-million Brickfields project - are nearing completion and will further contribute to the already burgeoning Newtown.

Phumulani, constructed by the Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), will bring a further influx of people into the inner- city, speeding up its revival.

The R32-million development is due for completion this month.

Dombolo Masilela, the marketing communications manager of the JHC, said the development would further enhance the Newtown area.

"Brickfields has been a great success and this is a continuation of that project. We have had huge interest in accommodation and there is still a great need for housing in this price range," she said.

The block offers one- to three-bedroom flats catering for people in the lower, middle and highincome groups. Rentals start from R1 242 for a one-bedroom unit to R2 376 for a two-bedroom flat.

Monthly income levels range from R1 500 to R12 000, with 60% of tenants in the lower income group and 40% in the middle-to-high levels.

"We have mixed income groups, as we have in all our other social housing buildings in the innercity, to prevent ghettos emerging. It works well and we have never had problems in this regard. There is a new fibre of people coming back into the inner-city.

"They are upwardly-mobile, with good incomes and from all walks of life, such as lawyers, bankers, nurses and policemen. They use our housing projects as springboards for the rest of their lives," Masilela said.

"While paying affordable rentals, they acquire all their other necessities and luxuries, such as cars and furniture, and then move on to their own property ownership."

There are many other developments happening in Newtown, including the refurbishment of Turbine Hall into corporate headquarters for Anglo Ashanti Gold, and the construction on nine sites around Central Place, bordered by Jeppe, Henry Nxumalo (Goch) streets and President and Miriam Makeba (Bezuidenhout).

These will be turned into retail and office space, entertainment, cinemas and upper-income residential units, creating an area that is used 24-hours. As with the JHC's other projects, a creche and afternoon homework classes supervised by Wits College of Education students will be established for tenants' children at Phumulani.

Brickfields will also have a computer centre.

The JHC also runs Makhubu a Matala, a community-development wing aimed at empowering tenants. It has counselling courses, skills such as beadwork, early childhood development courses and bricklaying and building skills for unemployed tenants, who are then used in the construction and renovation of the JHC buildings.

Soccer and netball teams have also been formed in most of the buildings and an inter-building sports day is arranged annually. 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.

The JHC, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, is a pioneer in social housing and has become known as a company that provides well supervised and managed quality and affordable accommodation, offering tenants the opportunity to live in a dignified, safe and secure environment in the inner-city.

To date, the JHC has renovated 22 buildings in the CBD, Hillbrow and Berea, housing about 8000 people.