UN award for Joburg housing

UN award for Joburg housing
Lucky Sindane

28 September 2006

The Johannesburg Housing Company has been awarded a prestigious UN Habitat Award for its pioneering social housing projects in Johannesburg's inner city.

Every year, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) recognises two projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to housing needs and problems.

The Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), set up in 1995 to create affordable rental housing in the inner city, has so far established 2 700 refurbished housing units providing accommodation for more than 8 000 people in 25 buildings across Johannesburg.

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

"This is the first time this award has been awarded to a South African housing institution and is recognition, not only that JHC is a world-class institution, but of the pioneering role JHC has played in the regeneration of Johannesburg's inner city over the past 10 years," said Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

The award will be presented to JHC during the United Nations celebration of World Habitat Day in Naples, Italy on 2 October.

JHC's eKhaya neighbourhood programme, which involves 30 landlords on the inner city's Pietersen Street who have been encouraged to clean up the area, has also been recognised internationally. The programme includes greening the pavements, placing rest areas outdoors and installing CCTV cameras for surveillance.

It has brought down crime rates in the area, controlled grime and engaged local council departments to ensure proper management of the streets.

"Our buildings are the envy of visitors from other social housing institutions both locally and from around the world," said JHC communications manager Dombolo Masilela. "We achieve high occupancy and low arrears because JHC tenants recognise the excellent value for money through our management and maintenance of our buildings."

The city's member of the mayoral committee for development planning and urban management, Ruby Mathang, hailed the award as recognition of JHC's role in contributing to the turn-around of the inner city.

"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," Mathang said.

"JHC's Lake Success building in Hillbrow was the first building to be upgraded under the City of Johannesburg's Better Buildings Programme, and JHC remains the largest participant in the programme," he said.