Taffy Adler and the Johannesburg Housing Company refurbish occupied buildings and construct new ones to offer affordable, safe housing in the Johannesburg Inner City. The Inner City had been abandoned by businesses and become centers of crime. Through its 24 buildings, which offer a home to more than 8500 people, the JHC has managed to be the main motor behind the regeneration of entire street blocks and districts in the city. It has invested more than R220m in creating an additional 8% of housing stock in the inner city for low and moderate-income earners. JHC standards of management and maintenance are considered international best practice, and social housing institutions worldwide admire JHC’s levels of customer satisfaction, rental arrears, bad debt and vacancies. Innovative architectural design, product innovation and rigorous construction management with a focus on long-term sustainability have become a JHC trademark, as have its firm, fair and caring approach to building management and administration. Every JHC building operates sustainably while both the vacancy levels and the non-paid rents are less than 2%, far below any other social and some private housing businesses, making it possible for JHC to operate at a surplus since 2003. It has even mobilized commercial funding, with the negotiation of the first commercial loan from a commercial bank to a social housing institution. The work of the JHC’s dedicated community development subsidiary, Makhulong a Matala Community Development Services, is pioneering in the urban development context, giving rise to activities which address the social disintegration so evident in Johannesburg’s urban transition and giving rise to safer, cleaner neighborhoods. The success of JHC’s innovations can be measured to the extent that its best practices have become the norm in the sector. Their most important achievement in pioneering new approaches is their contribution to the normalization of investment, and the provision of well managed rental accommodation in Johannesburg’s inner city. For these achievements, the JHC was the global winner of the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award 2006 for the best innovative and sustainable housing solutions.
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The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship