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​INNER city living is a pleasure for those people who rent at Joshco managed buildings. A visit to some of them spoke volumes.
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INNER city living is a pleasure for those people who rent at Joshco managed buildings. A visit to some of them spoke volumes.

ALTHOUGH he lives and works far from home, Abraham Lenkwe, who hails from Limpopo, is by no means lonely; he has found another home in the inner city of Joburg.
Lenkwe works as a security guard and lives at Chelsea, on Soper Road in Hillbrow, which is owned and managed by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco). His wife lives with him in town, and they have made the place their home for five years.
He had just knocked off from working a night shift and was resting at his flat when officials from Joshco and the media paid a surprise visit. They were on a tour of Joshco buildings on 28 June, to investigate how tenants were living.
In spite of the unexpected visit, Lenkwe was happy to share his experience of living at the Chelsea. “I feel safe in this building and the people here live like a family,” he said. “The place is always clean and the caretakers ensure that everything is working well.”
He said geysers provided hot water throughout the day and that there were enough bathrooms to service everybody. For this comfort, Lenkwe pays R750 a month. The cheapest accommodation in the building is R675 and the most expensive is R982. There are 80 communal units in the building; tenants share the kitchen, the bathrooms and laundry. It has been managed by Joshco since November 2008.
Lenkwe’s experience is an affirmation that Joburg’s dream of restoring the inner city to its glory days is alive.
Inner city
Speaking to the media, the chief executive officer of Joshco, Rory Gallocher, said: “The inner city is one characterised by extremes. We find the extreme negatives which leave us saying, ‘Oh my, I didn’t know it got this bad’; we find the extreme positives which leave us all saying, ‘Oh my, I didn’t realise this was going on.’”
Gallocher said his company demonstrated that chaos and failure in the inner city could be avoided by applying a well-informed and factually accurate plan. “We stipulate clearly what the rules are, and we diligently manage the implementation of that plan and enforce adherence to the rules of that plan. And we do basic things routinely and properly, then chaos and failure will not visit.”
He described chaos and failure as “the children of having no plan”. The building came from chaos. “The thing that transformed it from chaos to order and safety, sustainability and pride, was having rules and having management.”
The tour began at Casa Mia, where there are 179 units. Of those, six are communal rooms; there are also 21 studio flats, 120 bachelor flats, 22 one bedroom flats, and 10 two bedroom flats. Monthly rentals range from R750 to R3 540. The building has been under Joshco management since April 2011.
The stop at MBV on the corner of Hancock and Quartz streets in Joburg central told a story of how the inner city has been transformed for the better. The previous dilapidated building, once regarded as unsafe, is now intact and admirable.
And tenants’ delight is further testament that the City and its partners are winning in building better communities.
Nonceaba Zulu, who is originally from KwaZulu-Natal, has lived here since Joshco re-opened the building in 2010. She loves every moment of it, with just minor complaints, such as an occasional lack of enough hot water.
And living at MBV is convenient: “I like the building because it is close to taxis, so I don’t struggle when going to work,” she said. In addition, she felt safe at the building, and every schools holidays her daughters came from KwaZulu-Natal to stay with their mother. “I can leave my children alone and go to work, because security is tight and the people here care for one another.”
eKhaya Security Company takes care of keeping the building and its tenants safe. It has 184 communal units, and Zulu forks out R600 a month in rent, while the most expensive accommodation costs R2 000 a month.
Speaking outside MBV, Gallocher said: “Our vision is to further density in core locations where infrastructure and public transport will be cheaper to run and maintain. Long travelling times and distances are bad for sustainability both from an economic and environmental point of view.”
He hoped that drawing attention to the opportunities in the inner city would influence the way resources were allocated. “At all levels of public policy, national, provincial and municipal, the speak is about the importance of the inner city and the dangers of urban sprawl. Investment must mirror the policy speak far more aggressively.”
In the afternoon, the group landed at the immaculate Raschers building in the heart of the CBD, on the business-active Loveday Street. It provides 87 units of communal accommodation and has been under Joshco management since June 2010.
Although it is in the middle of the city, it is spotlessly clean inside. There is a big communal kitchen and decent bathrooms. The building was a conversion from offices and rentals range from R613 to R1 116 a month.
The visit ended at the newly renovated and unoccupied Lynatex in New Doornfontein. Its 160 beds will be used as emergency accommodation.
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