CITY OF JOHANNESBURG
‘At R626, my rent is paid’ – Joburg inner-city housing project sees some dreams of affordable living realised
Unity House is located at 10 Albrecht Street in Jeppestown. It is one of the City of Johannesburg’s recently launched affordable housing projects for inner-city residents, with rentals from R626 to R4,866 a month. Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille conducted an oversight visit to the Jeppestown social housing project on Tuesday.
Patricia de Lille says the Jeppestown social housing project in Johannesburg is a prime example of redressing apartheid spatial planning and providing dignified and affordable housing.
Since the adoption of a National Infrastructure Plan in 2012 and approval of the Infrastructure Investment Plan by the Cabinet in 2020, 62 projects from all three spheres of government, state-owned entities and the private sector were initiated to transform the economic landscape, while simultaneously creating significant numbers of new jobs and strengthening the delivery of basic services.
The 62 projects were gazetted as Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) in line with the Infrastructure Development Act of 2014, which means they are being prioritised for implementation and can follow an expedited path to delivery, with set and shorter time frames for regulatory processes.
To date, a third of the 62 SIPs gazetted in 2020 are under construction or have been completed. The remaining projects, which are in the early stages of development, are said to be receiving additional project preparation support.
Several of the SIPS are social housing projects for rental use.
In line with her roles as the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission Secretariat and Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, De Lille conducted an oversight visit to the Jeppestown social housing project in Johannesburg on Tuesday. This is one of many projects gazetted by her department as a SIP in July 2020 and concluded in July this year.
De Lille has been visiting various SIPs across the country to report back to the Cabinet on the progress of the Infrastructure Investment Plan.
“We have invested over a billion rand to look at all of these old buildings in cities across the country. Together with the South African Social Housing Authority, we have redesigned and made it available to the rental market,” said De Lille.
“The Jeppestown social housing project is an important development demonstrating the government’s efforts to redress apartheid spatial planning through well-located human settlements, and providing dignified housing in line with the Constitution and the Social Housing Act of 2008.”
The building – Unity House, located on 10 Albrecht Street in Jeppestown – is one of the City of Johannesburg’s recently launched affordable housing projects for inner-city residents. It is the first building in the area that the government has repurposed from two floors to a five-storey building with rentals ranging from R626 to R4,866 a month, depending on unit size and specification. The development comprises a mix of 95 studio, one and two-bedroom units.
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According to De Lille, the project was gazetted as an SIP due to its social development impact through job creation, social impact and economic empowerment.
“The Jeppestown social housing project is an inner-city building conversion and extension for the delivery of 95 social housing units with retail facilities on the ground floor completed to the value of just over R33.7-million, with R25.6-million of the overall contract amount contracted to SMMEs.
“The project has created 230 jobs during the construction phase, and 227 of these jobs have benefited the youth.”
De Lille expressed her satisfaction with the progress of the project, describing it as a central part of the government’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan to grow the economy through investment that leads to greater job creation.
Daily Maverick spoke to some of the new occupants, all of whom expressed satisfaction with the rentals and the convenient location of the building. Of the 95 units, 50 already have tenants.
Khumbulani Sithole (28) said: “I am happy that such a place has been made available even for low-income earners such as myself. At R626, my rent is paid… I can send more money home to KwaZulu-Natal and still have enough to survive until my next pay.
Another tenant said: “I’m staying with my family and the rental here is affordable. I don’t have to spend money on transport to work and I also do my shopping around here. It makes everything more convenient for my family.”
However, as the demand for affordable housing grows, vulnerable residents are increasingly falling for accommodation scams while others are pushed further from the city in their desperate search for cheaper lodgings.
“We want to bring people, especially young people, closer to the city. We are working with housing authorities to identify more government buildings that are either hijacked or are not being used, so that we can release those for social housing,” said De Lille. DM