What we've been up to at JHC over lockdown

What we've been up to at JHC over lockdown

It is safe to say that 2020 didn’t go as planned. The coronavirus pandemic has shifted our lives, forcing us to adapt to a new world. A world where we’re under a national lockdown. Now, we have to abide by lockdown restrictions and rules such as staying at home as much as possible, social distancing, sanitising, and wearing a mask every time we leave the house. 

The new normal has been challenging for everyone, including our tenants. So, we’ve made it our mission to find new ways of ensuring that our tenants are healthy, informed and still see the beauty of life.

This is because, at the Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), we care about our tenants. For us, it's more than about just finding flats apartments for rent. We want all of our tenants, whether it is senior citizens, the youth or families, to remain healthy and happy during their stay at our properties. 

To ensure that this is achieved, we’ve done a few things. Read on below to learn more. 

COVID-19 screening and testing for our tenants

As a real estate company in Johannesburg, we try to find ways to make our tenants feel safe. With Johannesburg being one of the COVID-19 hotspots, it was important to us to find a way to help the people living in our apartment buildings. This is why we partnered with the Department of Health to ensure that coronavirus screening and testing was done, free of charge, for all willing tenants. This was to ensure that we manage the risk in our building as we have senior citizens who form part of the most vulnerable groups. 

Our tenants greatly appreciated our efforts to safeguard their health, especially in these uncertain financial times. The Makhulong a Matala (MAM) team also played a huge role in educating and encouraging our tenants to go for screening, which helped reduce the risk on to their families. 

Food garden for our tenants

During the beginning stages of the nationwide lockdown, numerous individuals who fell under the non-essential workers’ group were unable to work. This had a dire impact on their finances and left many families with little or no money for essential items. While the government offered grants to help with the impact of the lockdown, we at JHC, decided to play our part too. Now, we have an accessible food garden for our tenants. While we have had a food garden for a long time, the lockdown has encouraged tenants to use it to their advantage. While they had to reduce the selling price, both gardeners and tenants have seen how helpful this initiative is. 

To add, there are no more hawkers selling fruits and vegetables nearby, which ultimately makes our food garden the main source and our tenants financially. Our tenants have also been mindful of social distancing, sanitising their hands, wearing masks and gloves at all times and ensuring there is only a maximum of three members in the small garden and five in the big one. 

Food parcel programme

With the lockdown extension leading to many families going hungry, and relying on handouts and goodwill, JHC and MAM decided to work together to have a food parcel programme for people living in our buildings. MAM, as well as some of our stakeholders, donated food parcels to about 3000 tenants, helping them put food on the table. Our food parcels included basic foods that had starch, protein, vegetables and seasoning. This helped a lot of tenants who had their working hours reduced, those who lost their incomes, those who are unemployed, street workers, single parents, shop owners, those who are self-employed and more. 

MAM activities

While some activities stopped in May, due to the pandemic, there have been a few initiatives that continued. A few MAM initiatives include anti-litter and recycling projects. As a property company in Gauteng, we need to ensure that we keep our residences clean. A few of our residences namely; Uno Court, Smitshof and Extension, Rondebosch and San Martin, continued with this campaign during the lockdown. Members wanted to continue playing a part in assisting cleaners over the weekend. The MAM team provided them with personal protective equipment and kept them informed regarding the virus and how they can ensure they are safe while continuing with the programme. 

Recently, we also hosted a Heritage Day event, where our tenants shared various themes from their culture, as well as a few groups participating in the viral Jerusalema dance challenge. Considering that September was Literacy month, we allowed our youth to participate in a mini writers’ competition. 

The challenge required young writers at different buildings to write about their experience during the lockdown. Most of our junior writers mentioned that the transition was difficult, but they've adjusted and are grateful that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced level 1 so that their parents can go back to work. Our writers’ competition and Heritage Day project have shown us that our tenants are talented, and more importantly, that they are resilient and can adjust to change. 

Final thoughts

Offering affordable housing in Johannesburg is only one part of our job; the extension of it involves offering our tenants a healthy and conducive environment. The lockdown disrupted so many lives and left people in financial hardship. 

And because of this, we found it important for us to continue to provide more than affordable housing development and offer our tenants hope during this time. If you want to find out more about our initiatives, make sure you follow our social media pages. And, if you want to become a part of the JHC family or are looking for Newtown accommodation or anywhere else in Johannesburg, give us a call as we are always happy to help!