Within ten years, Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JOSHCO), a City of Johannesburg owned entity which has received an unqualified audit over the past eight years (clean audit over the last six years), has invested more than R1,8 billion towards making Joburg a more liveable city. In this time, JOSHCO has provided more than 7 000 homes, refurbished or constructed 8 749 units. It has an ambitious plan to increase the number of units to more than 13 600 by the end of June 2017.
JOSHCO offers affordable and secure rentals for citizens who earn between R3 500 and R7 500 per month. Those in this income bracket do not qualify for RDP homes nor do they qualify for bonds.
Rory Gallocher CEO of JOSHCO says “One of the factors that threatened social housing was non-payment of rentals from tenants. Our tenants can expect delivery of service, while we expect tenants to pay rent on time every month and to respect the buildings and the rights of other tenants. The collection rate up to the end of the last audited financial year was 88%, up from 46% in 2006. JOSHCO is progressively improving this in order to achieve an average of 97%.
“Education is a large part of what we do,” Gallocher continues, “Often our tenants are first-time renters so the rights and obligations of a responsible tenant need to be communicated. This is done through workshops that JOSHCO’s tenants are obliged to attend before signing a lease agreement.”
JOSHCO’s primary objective is to transform the lives of their tenants by providing quality, affordable, safe and clean accommodation that is sustainable, inclusive and energy efficient. It further contributes through its repossession and refurbishment of ‘bad buildings’ in the city. Building energy efficient communities will be actualised in the retrofitting of JOSHCO developments with energy efficient technology such as solar geysers, smart meters and JOJO tanks.
The City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Cllr Parks Tau says: “JOSHCO has transformed these monuments of South Africa’s historic inequalities into sustainable thriving spaces for communities to live in.
“The City Deep Social Housing Project is a demonstration of the City’s commitment to redress historic spatial inequalities, through among others, the rehabilitation of mining land in line with our Corridors of Freedom programme. This programme seeks to realise our spatial vision of well-planned transport arteries that are linked to interchanges where mixed-use development, high density accommodation – supported by office buildings, retail development and opportunities for leisure and recreation – exist.”
Mayor Tau adds: “The City of Johannesburg is a city at work to secure a future where its citizens, instead of driving cars to move around, opt for cycling or walking on designated lanes that are currently being rolled out in the City.”
One of JOSHCO’s flagship projects is City Deep where they have converted a hostel and developed new rental units. The development of the City Deep Social Housing Project has been done in phases and is due for completion in the first quarter of 2015. It has already won the South African Housing Foundation award for Best Social Housing Project in 2014. The segregated dormitories have been transformed into a contemporary space for families.
In transforming the space, all the newer units have balconies. The units have been designed so that people spend most of their time in the living areas which are on the northern side which offer warmth and light. Safety has also been carefully considered with guard houses and access control.
It has been important for JOSHCO to engage tenants. Stability was considered a priority because of deep-seated political factionalism that has historically characterised hostels.
By the end of the project, 708 units will have been developed as well as roads, pedestrian walkways, gardens and other amenities. There are 10 similar developments in the organisation’s portfolio.
An example of JOSHCO’s commitment to the Corridors of Freedom is the integrated development, Fleurhof Estate. Located under 10 kilometres from the city centre, Fleurhof Estate is a transit-orientated development that offers residents a number of amenities such as schools, parks, shops and places of work in close proximity. The estate includes 452 JOSHCO one and two-bedroom units.