Making a Difference
When people ask me why I choose to continue to act as chairperson of the Johannesburg Housing Company, I can always say unequivocally that I know and believe that the work the JHC is doing is essential for the welfare of this nation in the long term. I can point with pride to the two thousand people whom the company has housed in a manner and in areas for so long denied them. I do not claim that the company can solve all the problems of housing in South Africa, but I can say that a company with a clear vision of urban regeneration and of creating a home for people who have previously frequently been exploited and marginalised, can be an example of what can be done.
At a strategic workshop in April this year, JHC conceptualised its task as “making a difference”. Included in this making a difference to housing and urban regeneration, are the residents of our buildings and to the people who manage the buildings. I believe that we are moving in this direction and that our dream is achieving reality in the expanding canvas of our home in the city.
There are three critical principles that guide this company towards this vision of making a difference:
Firstly, JHC is a company that is acutely aware of the role that it plays in the context of housing in South Africa . Coming out of an era where black urbanisation was curtailed to preserve white privilege, we constantly ask ourselves how we fit into the big picture and how the big picture influences us. We have built our values of personal commitment, honesty and integrity, self-motivated responsibility and mutual co-operation around this big picture. Just as waves do not start near the shore, but as a collection of small movements far out in the ocean, we see ourselves as a movement that, together with other social housing organisations, can become part of a huge wave of improving housing in South Africa . But we play a unique role in reversing the history of apartheid geography because, together with other housing associations, we work only in central areas of cities.
Secondly, JHC is a company that constantly strives for professionalism and service excellence. Our financial figures are based on firm and sound business principles. The major difference between us and other businesses is that all profits go back to the company to realise our mission – to deliver safe, affordable and comfortable housing. We hope to demonstrate to the South African business sector that a company that is sensitive to people, is owned by and belongs to non-profit organisations, can be run in a professional manner.
Thirdly, we are in the business of serving people. We are not just a provider of brick and mortar. We provide homes. We want our clients to feel that when they come home they can relax and feel comfortable. I am unashamedly excited when I arrive at our flats and see the obvious pride tenants take in the internal appearance of the units. It gives me pleasure to see that here people can find dignity. And that is not just because we have employed good people. It is because of the attitude we engender in our tenants. There are many buildings in this city where residents take no responsibility for the ruin. They just shrug their shoulders and say: “It's not my block.” Changing the way people relate to their environment is part of the challenge for us.
No matter how worthy the vision of a company is, it cannot be realised without dedicated implementation. I would like to thank the Board and the management of JHC for all their efforts over the past year. They have done an outstanding job. We would like to bid farewell to Horst Kleinschmidt and Ponds Mdaka and welcome Thabiso Ratsomo, the new director from Kagiso Trust, to the Board. We also wish to thank the European Union and the Flemish Regional government for their additional support this year.
Rev Mvume Dandala
Click on the link below to view and download the complete JHC 1998 Annual Report:
JHC 1998 Annual Report