Catherine and her brother standing at her stove in her new home.
Today, what was once an office block has been handed over as a new home to tenants like Catherine Kgathola who lived in a tiny room in Hillbrow. There she paid R1400 for rent and around R150 for water and electricity. Her brand new home which consists of a bedroom, communal bathroom and kitchen costs her R1050.00 per month.
“Where I used to live was completely unsafe and the living conditions were extremely poor,” Cathrine explains. “Now I can live in safe, clean, affordable accommodation with my younger brother.”
Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) has converted Europa House at 32 Plein Street, from a ten storey office block into 168 communal rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens at a cost of R10 million. The building, which is near Joburg train station, now offers communal living for families as well as individuals. Tenants pay rental of R840 to R1540 based on size. Rooms are available from 12 to 22 square metres. Each floor offers male and female bathrooms and a communal kitchen. Europa House now also offers 24 hour security with biometric access as well as a generator.
Says MMC of Housing: Cllr Dan Bovu, “Refurbishment of Europa House is a great step in enhancing the image of the inner city since the surrounding buildings are dilapidated and contribute to the current state of urban decay. Joshco’s primary objective is to transform the lives of their tenants by providing quality accommodation that is sustainable and energy efficient. It further contributes through its repossession and refurbishment of ‘bad buildings’ in the city.”
Tenants are screened through a Joshco application process and vetted according to set criteria. As they are generally first time renters, the rights and obligations of a responsible tenant are communicated through compulsory workshops.
Joshco offers affordable and secure home 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.
As part of the inner city regeneration Better Buildings Programme, Joshco started taking over management of several buildings in the inner city of Johannesburg from 2007. The buildings were refurbished and transformed into quality communal rental accommodation suitable for lower income groups. Communal rental housing is a form of accommodation where the costs of development are minimised by providing rental rooms with shared bathrooms, laundries and kitchens.