This year I am delighted to report that Johannesburg Housing Company achieved its highest levels of delivery yet, adding more than 300 new family housing units to the residential accommodation available in the inner city. With this growth in delivery we have, as a company, moved significantly closer to a position of financial sustainability.
The past year also saw JHC receiving recognition from the highest quarters in our country, from our President, Thabo Mbeki, and on the part of the private sector, from Anglo American Corporation. We thank them both for raising consciousness of the importance of social housing.
Our opening of Tribunal Gardens in Fordsburg in May met with great enthusiasm from the community and the complex was 100% occupied within three weeks. The opening of Elangeni at 80 Albert Street in the CBD marked another milestone in JHC’s contributions to redefining and rebuilding the inner city. This building, which provides safe and secure housing for families and individuals who are choosing to make their homes in the city, rises on the property of the old Pass Office. At this place, where in the past so many were scorned and humiliated, today we honour their dignity.
JHC now provides housing for more than 4 000 men, women and children in the inner city. Our buildings are well managed, safe, clean and orderly. They are designed with care and innovation to provide comfortable and homely living for low and moderate-income earners, and an environment that enables and encourages individual and community development.
In addition to the physical assets that we have built and refurbished in the city, JHC also builds and refurbished in the city, JHC also builds non-physical assets – social capital – in our staff, our board of directors, our tenant communities, and in our relationships with the government, funders, financial institutions, professionals, contractors and service providers. Our drive to develop social capital in parallel with physical assets is aimed at strengthening people and increasing their effectiveness, as individuals and in community, to find solutions to the problems that they encounter in their lives.
Asset building extends beyond financial and physical assets, to an array of human and social resources that enable people and communities to exert some control over their lives and to participate in their societies in meaningful and effective ways. Amongst the people with whom we work, we recognise their intrinsic resources. Often, the only asset that poor people have is their character – characteristics such as honesty, integrity, creativity, diligence and inner strength. As an organisation that values character-based transactions, we encourage people to build on their inherent assets, helping them to gain access to marketable skills, to build up their economic resources and to develop social support structures.
Continuous asset building, in this broad sense, inevitably contributes to a reduction of poverty. And the development of social capital – in the social bonds, community relations and civic commitments that people share – encourages people to look not only to today, but also to the future and to the well being of future generations in a stable, prosperous and peaceful society.
A Culture of Trust
At the foundation of all the work that we do, in building communities and rebuilding the inner city, is a culture of trust. Trust is at the core of all our interactions. As a result, the people with whom we interact have come to know what to expect from JHC – in terms of quality of accommodation, quality of management, and our way of working based on the principle of social entrepreneurship.
JHC has come to be recognised as a trustworthy custodian of people’s dreams for a better future, and as a trustworthy custodian of other people’s money – the money of governments, funders and of the private sector. We have put these resources to good use and demonstrated that given a chance, and a helping hand, the lower income earners in our society can take up their rightful roles in the community and step closer to realising their dreams.
The Value of People
None of our achievements would have been possible without the continuing commitment of our staff that, under the direction of Taffy Adler and his senior management team, have responded to the challenges of handling and nurturing a completely new concept of housing in South Africa and have grown in their own capabilities as the company has developed.
JHC prides itself on the quality of its staff. We are determined to allow the staff the opportunity to grow their skills, through training and through exposure to similar projects internationally. I am very excited that these opportunities are not restricted to the executive but are open to staff at all levels. The exchange programme that we initiated with the Notting Hill Housing Trust, and have now extended to other institutions in Réunion and Canada, is linked to the company’s internal system of performance appraisal and so is accessible to any member of staff. This is just a further indicator of our desire to operate as an organisation that recognises people as assets. I also want to thank my fellow directors, who put time and effort well beyond the call of duty into the growth and stability of the company.
I am thankful to those who have trusted us with their resources, to our partners who from the beginning helped us to initiate social housing development in South Africa, and to those who over the years have helped us to grow. Our challenge now is to explore new ways of raising funds and new structures of funding.
During the past year, I travelled with Taffy Adler to the United States to look at various kinds of funding that have been developed to support social housing initiatives there. Our visit to the USA confirmed the crucial role that social housing plays in urban renewal and economic development. I t also highlighted the need for the concept of social capital to be explored and brought to bear more widely on development projects in South Africa.
I have faith that those with the required resources will join us as partners in our social housing and community development projects. By bringing together social and financial capital we can traverse new frontiers.
In last year’s report I noted the role that JHC has played in assisting regeneration in the inner city. This is an ongoing challenge. I am encouraged by what we have achieved and by the work of other players in this arena. JHC is proud of its own contribution to the renewal of Johannesburg and we are proud to walk with those will not allow Johannesburg to become a slum city. With them, we recognise that Johannesburg has a future as one of the finest cities on the content.
Rev Mvume Dandala
Click on the link below to view and download the complete JHC 2002 Annual Report:
JHC 2002 Annual Report