Jubilant families get place to call home

By Anna Cox

© The Star 2005-07-04

The first tenants have moved into the R98,7-million cosmopolitan housing project in Brickfields, Newtown, in the Johannesburg CBD.

On Friday great excitement greeted the offloading of bakkies and rummaging for the right keys as the tenants were shown around by Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC) officials. By 10am some curtains were already hung as the residents started settling in.

A woman stood on her first- floor balcony, her flat empty because her furniture had not arrived. She danced a jig, saying she didn't care if she had to sleep on the floor.

"It doesn't matter: at least I have my own place. This is all mine, my own home," she said.

JHC chief executive Taffy Adler, who was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition, smiled as he heard a baby cry.

"We are finally there. Once there is the sound of children we know we have reached our goal, putting people in places they can call home," he said.

JHC staff set up help desks within each block to do what they could to sort out problems such as keys that did not fit, the need for gate passes, finding basin plugs and toilet-roll holders.

Pikitup arrived with a truckload of refuse bins for each unit, the truck adding to the congestion as it blocked the driveway. But no one cared. They were too busy settling in.

Thys Botha said he had moved from Roodepoort. He works for Metrorail and its offices are around the corner in Braamfontein.

"Now I can walk to work. This place is nice, the rent is reasonable and it is safe and secure," he said.

ANC ward councillor for Newtown Gcina Mahlatshana has also moved into Brickfields.

"I was living in Braamfontein in old flats. These are much better and the JHC offers excellent management and reasonable rentals."
Zaldene Metsmaerte, an accountant, said she had moved from Jeppestown.

"This is more accessible to everything. It is a lovely flat and has a nice play area for the children."

George Engelbrecht, a customer service consultant with an insurance company, lived in suburban Florida before.

"My company has relocated to Parktown so it will be much easier to get to work. I will be saving about R300 in transport costs."

By the end of the afternoon about 60% of the tenants had taken up occupancy.

"We were expecting a rush over the weekend but people were obviously eager to come in," said Dombolo Masilela, JHC's communication and marketing manager.

Each tenant will be put through an education course, designed to teach residents about their duties and responsibilities.

As with its other projects, the JHC will put social development programmes in place at Brickfields, such as a creche and afternoon homework classes.

Soccer and netball teams will be formed, and join the JHC inter-building league.

The Brickfields project is the country's largest publicprivate partnerships in the residential housing sector, and the first residential development in the inner city for 30 years.

It is expected to spur Newtown's growth into a major shopping, entertainment, business, retail and residential hub.

The second phase, which has already begin, will create another 350 to 400 dwellings, at a total cost of R100-million.

Brickfields is a joint venture between the Gauteng Housing Department, Gauteng Partnership Fund, Anglo American Corporation, Absa, ApexHi and Anglo Gold.

The National Housing Finance Corporation paid R25-million into the development and the City of Johannesburg provided land.